70 years of Larisa Bogoraz
On 8 August Larisa Bogoraz, one of the founders of human rights protection movement in the USSR, reached the age of 70. Her sharp and sober mind, her kindness, her aversion to violence, her readiness to help are well known to everybody who had the honor to contact this outstanding and remarkable woman. Whatever happened in her life . and there were very many bitter hours in her biography . Larisa Bogoraz always irradiated energy, vivacity and optimism. The Kharkov Group for human rights protection congratulates Larisa with her birthday and desires her to be healthy and fortunate, to write new books and articles. Here we print a short biography of Larisa Bogoraz prepared by Moscow . Memorial. for the international Biography Dictionary of dissidents. We have made several additions to the biography.
Larisa Bogoraz was born in Kharkov in 8 August 1929 of a family of party functionaries, who fought in the Civil War. She is a grandniece of the well-known ethnographer academician V.G. Tan-Bogoraz. In 1936 her father was arrested and convicted for . Trotskyist activities. . Having reached 18-year age, Larisa, contrary to her mother. s wish, went to her father. s exile. In 1950, on graduating from the philological faculty of Kharkov University. Larisa married Yuliy Daniel and went to live in Moscow. Before it she worked for several months in a village school
as a teacher of the Ukrainian language and literature. Then up to 1961 she worked as a teacher of Russian in schools of the Kaluga oblast and later on in Moscow. In 1961 . 64 she was a post-graduate of mathematical and structural linguistics at the Institute of the Russian language, later she did research in phonology. In 1964 . 65 she lived in Novosibirsk, teaching general linguistics at the philological faculty of Novosibirsk University. In 1965 Larisa defended her candidate. s thesis. The history of her academic degree is not simple: in 1978 she was stripped of her degree by the Highest Attestation Commission. In 1990 the same Commission reconsidered its decision and returned her the degree of Cand. Sci. (philology).
Larisa knew about the . underground. literary work of her husband and Andrey Siniavskiy; in 1965, after their arrest, she, together with Siniavskiy. s wife, started an active public campaign, protecting Daniel and Siniavskiy. This way they themselves started systematic human rights protection activities and involved many others, who took part in this campaign.
In 1966 . 67 Larisa used to go to the notorious Mordova concentration camps to see her husband. There she got acquainted with relatives of other political convicts and involved them into the circles of the Moscow intelligentsia. Her flat became something like a hotel for relatives of political convicts from other towns and for political convicts returning from the camps after the release. Among them were many Ukrainian convicts and their relatives. Larisa became friendly with the Ukrainian dissidents of the 60s, especially with Ivan and Leonid Svetlichnys and Evhen Sverstiuk. The Svetlichnys were old friends: Larisa and Yuliy made their acquaintance in the late 50s, when Yuliy Daniel translated Ukrainian poetry to Russian.
In her public appeals Larisa set the problem of modern political convicts before the public consciousness. After one of such appeals a KGB officer . in charge of the Daniels. said: . We have been always on the different sides of the barricade, but you were the first to open fire. .
These years made a period of consolidation of many dispersed opposition groups, circles and just friendly companies, whose activity began to turn into a public movement, later called human rights protection one. Due to Larisa. s concentration camp contacts, this process rapidly got outside one social group . Moscow liberal intelligentsia, although this group appeared in the center of events.
The turning point in the development of human rights protection movement was the appeal of Larisa (jointly with Pavel Litvinov) . To the world public. , issued on 11 January 1968. The appeal concerned the trial of Aleksandr Ginsburg and his comrades. It was for the first time when a human rights protection document appealed directly to the public opinion . it was in no way addressed to party or state bodies or to the Soviet press. The appeal was repeatedly transmitted by foreign radio, and thousands of Soviet citizens learned that in the USSR there existed people, who openly fought for human rights. Scores of people responded to this appeal, many of them became later active participants of the human rights protection movement.
Larisa Bogoraz signed many other human rights protection texts from 1967 on. In spite of the objections on the side of many well-known human rights protection activists (they persuaded her that, as a . leader of the movement. , she must not risk to be arrested), Larisa went to the Red Square to take part in the demonstration, which protested against the invasion into Czechoslovakia. The demonstrators were arrested and convicted by Articles 190-1 and 190-3. Larisa got four-year exile in the East Siberia (Irkutsk oblast, settlement of Chuna). There she worked as a rigger at a wood-working plant.
On returning to Moscow in 1972, Larisa took no direct part in the work of dissident public associations, but from time to time she started important public initiatives, herself or with co-authors. So, for example, she signed the so-called . Moscow appeal. whose authors protested against sending Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from the USSR and demanded to publish in the Soviet Union . The GULAG archipelago. and other materials witnessing on the crimes of the Stalin epoch. In her (individual) open letter to Yu. Andropov she went still further: having remarked that she did not hope that the KGB would open their archives on their free will, Larisa declared that she intended to collect evidence on Stalin. s repressions herself. Later this idea was embodied in the samizdat historical magazine . Pamiat. (. Memory. ), which was published from 1976 to 1984 and in whose work Larisa took a secret, but rather active part. Actually, it was an attempt to create the organization which now bears the name of . Memorial. .
From time to time Larisa printed publicist articles abroad. Thus, in 1976, she, under the pen-name of M. Tarusevich, published (jointly with her second husband Anatoliy Marchenko) in the magazine . Kontinent. the article . Tertium datur est. , devoted to the problems of international razriadka in early 80s. A public discussion was provoked by her another text . an appeal to the British government to treat humanely the incarcerated IRA terrorists.
In 60s and 70s Larisa translated from Ukrainian to Russian materials for . The chronicle of current events. . Together with Leonid Plushch she was a connecting link between Russian and Ukrainian human rights protectors. When her Ukrainian friends were incarcerated, Larisa wrote letters to them in the Ukrainian language. There was another little-known event: Larisa went to the concentration camp to see Anatoliy Marchenko and the latter gave her Stepan Khmara. s note, where he wrote about the cash, where issues 5 . 6 of . Ukrainsliy visnyk. had been hidden. Larisa took her 8-year son and her grandson and went to Lviv where she handed the note. Up to now she is sorry that she had no chance to get acquainted with Vasyl Stus, whom she considers to be the greatest Ukrainian poet of the 20 thcentury.
More than once Larisa turned to the USSR government with the appeal to have the universal political amnesty. The campaign for the amnesty, which she began in October 1986 jointly with Sofya Kallistratova, Mikhail Gefter and Aleksandr Podrabinek, was her last and the most successful . dissident. action. This time the appeal was supported by a number of prominent figures of the Soviet culture. In January 1987 Gorbachev began to release political prisoners. Yet, Anatoliy Marchenko, Larisa. s second husband, did not survive to the amnesty: he died in Chistopol prison on 8 December 1986 after a three-month hunger strike. This day can be regarded as a real beginning of the so-called perestroyka.
Larisa. s public activity continued during the perestroyka years and afterwards. She participated in the preparation and work of the International public seminar (December 1987); on autumn 1989 she joined the Moscow Helsinki Group and for some time was its co-chairperson; in 1993 . 97 she was a director of the Russian-American project group in human rights. In 1991 . 96 Larisa was the instructor of the educational seminars in human rights for public organizations of Russia and the CIS. Larisa continues to write brilliant articles on the history and theory of human rights protection organizations.