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Larisa Bogoraz has died

On 6 April 2004 in Moscow Larisa Bogoraz, a well-known Russian human rights protector, has died. The biography of L. Bogoraz is presented to “Prava ludyny” readers.

On 6 April 2004 in Moscow Larisa Bogoraz has died. She was 75. We are mourning for her together with everybody, who knew her – a person wonderful in all respects.

Larisa Bogoraz was cha­rac­terized with the uncommon combination of generosity, intel­lect, charm, beauty, naturalness and highly developed feeling of personal responsibility for every­thing happening around her. This combination dictated her style of life, and she always performed the deeds, which seemed to be unthinkable in the current system of social relations: visiting her father in exile, appeal to the world community (first in the Soviet history), action on the Lobnoe Mesto (on the Red Square in Moscow) of 25 August 1968 under the slogan «For your and our freedom» and many others. She was an inexhaustible source of liberty, being, at the same time, unaffected and natural. She could speak on every topic.

Larisa was a true friend of the Kharkov «Memorial», which in 1992 called itself the Kharkov group for human rights protection. Being an external expert, she visited us for many times, understood our work in details, advised to us on the best ways of development, read all our publications.

From the professional viewpoint we owe her much: views on things, thinking, attitude to the problems of human rights protection, etc. She sympathetically reacted to all vexed questions and, as time showed, was never wrong. In a word, she was our Teacher.

Today we want to present to our readers the biography of Larisa Bogoraz.

The Kharkov group for human rights protection
7 April 2004

LARISA BOGORAZ (8 August 1929, Kharkov, Ukraine – 6 April 2004, Moscow, Russia).

L. Bogoraz’s parents were members of the Communist party, party activists, participants of the Civil War. In 1936 Larisa’s father Iosif Bogoraz was arrested and accused for «Trotskyism activities». In 1947 Larisa visited her father in exile, contrary to mother’s prohibition.

In 1950, after the graduation from the philological faculty of the Kharkov University, Larisa worked for several months in a village school as a teacher of the Ukrainian language and literature. After that she married to Yuli Daniel and moved to Moscow; up to 1961 she worked as a teacher of the Russian language in schools of the Kaluga oblast, and then in Moscow schools. In 1961-1964 she was a post-graduate student of the sector of mathematical and structural linguistics of the Institute of the Russian language of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; worked in the sphere of phonology. In 1964-1965 L. Bogoraz lived in Novosibirsk, was a teacher of general linguistics at the philological faculty of the Novosibirsk University. In 1965 Bogoraz defended the Ph.D. thesis (in 1978 she was deprived of the academic degree by the decision of the All-Union Academic Commission (UAC); in 1990 the UAC revised this decision and returned her the degree of candidate of philology).

Larisa knew about the «underground» literary work of her husband and Andrey Siniavskiy; in 1965, after their arrest, she, together with A. Siniavskiy’s wife Maria Rozanova, do her best to turn the public opinion in favor of the arrested writers. The case of Daniel and Siniavskiy became the beginning of systematic human rights protection activities of many people, including Larisa Bogoraz.

In 1966-1967 Bogoraz regularly visited her husband in Mordovia political colonies; there she got acquainted with relatives of other political prisoners and engaged them in the circle of Moscow intelligentsia. Her flat became something like a «staging post» for the relatives of political prisoners from other towns, who were going for meetings to Mordovia, and for the prisoners, who were returning from camps after the release.

Many Ukrainian figures of the sixties and their relatives stayed in her flat. Larisa was on friendly terms with several Ukrainian prisoners of conscience and regularly wrote letters to them – naturally, in Ukrainian. The relations with Ivan and Leonida Svetlichnys were especially close. Their families became friends as early as in the beginning of the 50s, when Yuli Daniel translated verses of Ukrainian poets into Russian. Bogoraz translated many documents of the Ukrainian samizdat to Russian before the dispatch to the West. Later she took out from the meeting with Anatoliy Marchenko the information about the place, where the issues of «Ukrainskiy Visnyk», prepared by Stepan Khmara, Vitaliy and Oles Shevchenko, were hidden. She went to Lviv and passed this information to Olena Antoniv.

In her appeals and open letters Larisa Bogoraz for the first time put before the public consciousness the problem of modern political prisoners. After one of such appeals the KGB officer, who controlled the family of Daniels, said: «We have been on different sides of barricade from the very beginning, but you was the first, who started the hostilities».

This was the period of consolidation of many separate opposition groups and companies of friends, whose activities began to grow into a public movement, which was called later «the human rights protection movement». Owing to the «near-camp» contacts of Larisa, this process soon exceeded the limits of one social group – the Moscow liberal intelligentsia. L. Bogoraz appeared in the center of the events.

The appeal of Larisa Bogoraz and Pavel Litvinov «To the world community» (11 January 1968), in which they protested against the brutal violation of laws in the course of the trial of Aleksandr Ginzburg and his fellows (the so-called «process of the four») became a turning-point in the formation of human rights protection movement. For the first time a human rights protection document appealed directly to public opinion; it was not addressed to either Soviet and party instances or Soviet press even formally. After the repeated transmission of this appeal by foreign radio stations, thousands of Soviet citizens learned that people existed in the USSR, who openly fought for human rights. Scores of people responded to the appeal, many of them were solidary with its authors. Some of these people became active participants of human rights protection movement.

L. Bogoraz also signed many other human rights protection documents in 1967-1968 and later.

In spite of the objections of a number of famous human rights protectors (who said that she, «the leader of the movement», had not to risk her freedom), on 25 August 1968 Larisa Bogoraz took part in the «demonstration of the seven» on the Red Square. She was arrested and condemned, according to Articles 190-1 and 190-3 of the CC of the Russian Federation, to 4 years of exile. She served the sentence in the Eastern Siberia (settlement of Chuna, the Irkutsk oblast), worked as a scaffold worker at a woodworking enterprise.

After the return to Moscow in 1972, Larisa did participate directly in the work of dissident public associations (only in 1979-1980 she joined the Committee for the protection of Tatiana Velikanova), but regularly initiated, sometimes with «co-authors», the important public actions. For instance, she signed the so-called «Moscow appeal», the authors of which protested against the deportation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from the USSR and demanded to publish in the Soviet Union «The GULAG archipelago» and other materials evidencing on the crimes of the Stalin’s epoch. In her individual open letter to KGB head Yu. Andropov she went even more far: she pointed out that she did not hope that the KGB would open its archives voluntarily and declared that she was going to collect the historical data about Stalin’s repressions for her own. This idea became one of the impulses for the creation of independent samizdat historical magazine «Pamiat» («Memory», 1976-1984), in which Bogoraz took secret, but rather active, part.

From time to time Larisa Bogoraz published her articles in the foreign press. In particular, in 1976 she published, under the pen-name «M. Tarusevich», the article «Tretye dano» («The third is given») in the magazine «Continent». This article was devoted to the problems of international détente. In the beginning of the 1980s a public discussion was evoked by her appeal to the British government to behave more humane toward the condemned terrorists of the Ireland Republican Army.

More than once Larisa Bogoraz turned to the USSR government with the demand to announce the general political amnesty. The campaign for amnesty of political prisoners, begun in October 1986 together with Sofya Kalistratova, Mikhail Gefter and Aleksandr Podrabinek, was her last and most successful «dissident» action: the appeal of Bogoraz and others about the amnesty was, this time, endorsed by a number of well-known figures of the Soviet culture. In January 1987 M. Gorbachev started to release the political prisoners. Yet, Larisa’s husband A. Marchenko did not have time to take advantage of this amnesty: in December 1986 he had died in the Chistopol prison.

Larisa Bogoraz continued her public activities in the years of perestroika and after the perestroika. She took part in the preparation and work of the Moscow public seminar (December 1987); in autumn 1989 she joined the recreated Moscow Helsinki Group and for some time was its co-chairperson; in 1993-1997 she was a member of the board of the Russian-American Project group of human rights. In 1991-1996 Larisa Bogoraz directed the enlightenment seminar on human rights for public organizations of Russia and the CIS.

Larisa Bogoraz was the author of a number of articles and notes on history and theory of human rights protection movement. During recent years she was writing her memoirs, edited many texts of «Memorial».

Larisa Bogoraz died on 6 April 2004 after a long grave disease.

A. Daniel, with additions by E. Zakharov

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