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 Pavel  Litvinov


Born:   1940

Pavel Litvinov is a Russian physicist, human rights activist, writer and former Soviet-era dissident.

      

Pavel Litvinov is a Russian physicist, human rights activist, writer and former Soviet-era dissident. 
Pavel Litvinov is a grandson of Stalin's foreign minister, he was born and raised among the Soviet elite, he was devoted to the cult of Stalin. After Stalin's death and the return of family's friends from the labout camps, he grew disillusioned with the Soviet system and decided to fight against it to live without fear. 
 
He married for the first time when he was 17. When he was 20 years old, he was teaching physics at the Institute for Chemical Technology. Unfortunately, he lost his job due to his political activism. He joined a group of  intellectuals who were following the show-trials of the dissidents Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, who were accused of  of publishing an essay and a number of stories that had not been approved by Soviet censors. 
 
In 1968 he participated in  the Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, that had taken place four days earlier. Along with eight other protesters, including Larisa Bogoraz, a philologist, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a poet, Vadim Delaunay, poet, and Viktor Fainberg, an art critic, Konstantin Babitsky, Vladimir Dremluga and Tatiana Baeva, Pavel was arrested by the KGB. 
 
"I went to Red Square in order to express our shame over the conduct of our government and our disagreement with the introduction of troops into Czechoslovakia", says Pavel. "We protested against the idea of using tanks to crush free speech. That was the idea. I was excited. It felt like an adrenaline rush. I don't really know how to describe it. I felt a strong urge to do it. I was ashamed of being a Soviet citizen, in whose name the invasion was done. I wanted to say that not all Soviets were supporting it. I felt great, more uplifted than scared. ...We raised our banners, we did not shout, just sat in silence. The square was quite empty at that time, with both the GUM shopping mall and Lenin tomb closed. Immediately some people rushed towards us, calling us "parasites" and "drunks", and started beating us. They were KGB agents. Viktor Fainberg lost four teeth in the melee".
 
The police arrested them, took them to their apartments, confiscating samizdat publications, articles, poems. Natalia Gorbanevskaya and Fainberg were then sent to prison and psychiatric hospitals. The others were put on trial. Pavel was sentenced to five years of inner exile in eastern Siberia. Larisa Bogoraz received four years in Siberia, Konstantin Babitsky 3 years, and Vadim Delanay with Vladimir Dremlyuga were given 3 years in labor camps.
 Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Pavel Litvinov on the Red Square
 
Pavel served out his five year sentence in Chita, Siberia. He returned from the exile in 1974. Together with his wife Maya he decided to left Soviet Union. They went to Vienna by train and from there to Rome until they moved to United States. He lived in New York where he taught physics and mathematics at Hackley School in Tarrytown (from 1976 until his retirement in 2006). 
 
In 2005 Pavel Litvinov took part in a television project "They Chose Freedom", a documentary on  the history of the Soviet dissident movement. 
 
 
 


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