Kronid Lyubarsky

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Kronid Arkadyevich Lyubarsky
Soviet dissidents in Munich.jpg
Yuliya Vishnevskya, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Dina Kaminskaya and Kronid Lyubarsky in Munich, 1978
Native name Кронид Аркадьевич Любарский
Born (1934-04-04)April 4, 1934
Pskov, Soviet Union
Died May 23, 1996(1996-05-23) (aged 62)
Bali, Indonesia
Nationality Russian
Citizenship Soviet Union
Alma mater Moscow State University
Occupation astronomer, astrophysicist, journalist
Known for human rights activism with participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group
Movement dissident movement in the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) Galina Salova

Kronid Arkadyevich Lyubarsky (Russian: Крони́д Арка́дьевич Люба́рский; 4 April 1934, Pskov, Soviet Union – 23 May 1996, Bali, Indonesia) was a Russian journalist, dissident, human rights activist and political prisoner.

Early career

Born in the city of Pskov, USSR, on April 4, 1934, Lyubarsky graduated from the Moscow State University in 1956 and worked as an astrophysicist at the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of the USSR Academy of Sciences. His academic work included studies on meteors and space biology. He was also working in the Soviet program of interplanetary exploration of Mars. He authored several books on astrobiology and translated scientific works into Russian, including books by Fred Hoyle.[1]

Dissident activity

In the mid-1960s, Lyubarsky became active in the civil rights movement and became a contributing editor of various samizdat publications. These included the Chronicle of Current Events which circulated between April 1968 and July 1982, documenting extrajudicial persecution, arrests, court proceedings, incarceration in psychiatric hospitals and other forms of harassment in the Soviet Union.

In January 1972, Luybarsky's apartment was searched by the police and more than 600 documents, manuscripts and books were confiscated.[2] The search was followed by his arrest three days later on charges of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. Following his conviction on October 30, 1972,[3] Lyubarsky spent the next five years in various labor camps and prisons in Mordovia, as well as the notorious Vladimir Central Prison.

While still in the camps, he initiated the idea of celebrating a Day of the Political Prisoner in the USSR.[4] The initiative spread quickly to other camps and prisons. The annual event, celebrated on the anniversary of his trial, later became Russia's Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions.[5]

After his release, Lyubarsky was placed unter surveilled exile in the town of Tarusa in the Moscow Region. During this period, he became one of the managers of the Public Aid Fund set up by the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn to aid political prisoners, and a member of the Soviet branch of Amnesty International. However, mounting pressures by the authorities and the imminent threat of a renewed arrest forced Lyubarsky and his family into emigration in October 1977. Stripped of his citizenship, he sought political asylum in West Germany.


In Munich, Lyubarsky founded a bulletin, Vesti iz SSSR (USSR News Brief), a periodical providing comprehensive information between 1978 and 1988 about the human rights situation and resistance to the Communist regime in the Soviet Union. Published in Russian and English twice a month, this bulletin included an annual "List of Political Prisoners in the USSR", a yearbook of political prisoners complete with case details and family contacts. The list appeared until 1989, when the last Soviet political prisoner was released, and was widely used for reference by private citizens, human rights organizations and numerous parliamentary commissions, as well as the United States Congress.[6][7]

Beginning in 1984, Lyubarsky also edited and published the magazine Strana i Mir (The Country and the World).[8] Taking its name from a well-known book by the political dissident and Nobel laureate, Andrei Sakharov, the magazine was intended for a broad readership. It reported not only on repression and resistance in the USSR but also economic and political developments in the rest of the world.

Post-Soviet Russia

Lyubarsky returned to Russia following the breakup of the USSR. His citizenship was restored in June 1992. He was one of the authors of the current Constitution of the Russian Federation and drafted a number of its articles, including those on the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of Russia.[9] He also served on the editorial staff of a number of magazines, including the Russian Civil Rights Bulletin.

From 1993 to 1996 he led the revived Moscow Helsinki Group, a watchdog organization first set up in the mid-1970s to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

In February 1993, he joined the magazine Novoye Vremya where he was appointed first deputy editor in chief. He continued to write articles in defense of democracy and human rights. He was strongly opposed to the First Chechen War and took Duma deputy and film-maker Stanislav Govorukhin to court for defamation, when the latter quoted from a letter supposedly showing that certain Russian journalists were in the pay of the Chechen authorities.[10] (After his death, Lyubarsky's widow Galina won the case against Govorukhin, and received the nominal damages — one Russian rouble — that he had demanded.)

Lyubarsky died of a heart attack on May 23, 1996, while vacationing in Indonesia.

In 2000 he was named posthumously as one of 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years by the International Press Institute.[6]



  1. Wade, Nicholas (3 September 1976). "Kronid Lyubarsky: the Soviet state tries to unmake a scientist". Science. 193 (4256): 863–864. Bibcode:1976Sci...193..863W. doi:10.1126/science.193.4256.863. JSTOR 1742257.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. A Chronicle of Current Events No 24, 5 March 1972 — 24.2 "Searches and arrests in January".
  3. A Chronicle of Current Events No 28, 31 December 1972 — 28.4 "The case of Lyubarsky and Popov".
  4. A Chronicle of Current Events No 33, 10 December 1974 — 33.1 "Political Prisoners' Day in the USSR".
  5. "Rights activists read aloud Soviet-era victims' names". Radio Liberty. 29 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. Keller, Bill (12 February 1987). "How many held in Soviet. Figures vary". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Glad, John (1993). Conversations in exile: Russian writers abroad. Duke University Press. p. 133.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Боде, Вероника (7 April 2009). "Кронид Любарский, борец и жизнелюб" [Kronid Lyubarsky, campaigner and bon vivant] (in Russian). Radio Liberty.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Yearbook 2002/2003, Vienna, 2003, "Report on the media situation in Chechnya", p. 230.

External links