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 Larisa Bogoraz

Born:   August 8, 1929
Deceased:   April 6, 2004

Russian linguist, human rights activist, and publicist


Larisa Iosifovna Bogoraz was born in Kharkov on August, 8th 1929. Her parents were Soviet communist party workers and participants of the Civil War. In 1936 Larisa’s father was arrested and condemned on charge of Trotskyist activity.

In 1950 she graduated from the Philology Faculty of the Kharkov University. Till 1961 she worked as a teacher of Russian at schools in the Kaluga Region, and then in Moscow. In 1961-1964 she was a postgraduate student of mathematical and structural linguistics department at the Institute of Russian Language of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1964-1965 she taught general linguistics at the Philology Faculty of Novosibirsk University. In 1965 she defended her master's thesis.

In 1965 she wrote a letter to the General public prosecutor of the USSR as a protest against the arrest of writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. In the following years she signed many other letters and documents in protection of human rights. In the beginning of 1968 together with P. Litvinov she wrote an appeal “To the world community” apropos "the process of four" (Yu. Galanskov, A. Ginzburg, A. Dobrovolsky and V. Lashkova).

In August, 1968 she participated in the famous demonstration on Red Square against intrusion of Soviet armies to Czechoslovakia. For participation in the demonstration she was sentenced to four years of exile. She served her exile term in Chunsky Settlement of the Irkutsk Region. There she worked at a woodworking factory as an odd-job laborer. Upon returning from the exile she took part in the publication of the underground samizdat journal “Chronicle of current events” along with Natalia Gorbanevskaya, another participant of the “demonstration of the seven”, and other dissidents.

In 1975 Larisa Bogoraz wrote a public letter to KGB Head Yuri Andropov with a demand to open the KGB archives. She also participated in creation of the independent samizdat historical collection “Memory”.

Occasionally writing for foreign editions, she published the article “Tretye dano” (“A third [option] is given”) co-authored with her second husband, Anatoly MARCHENKO in the journal “Continent”, on the issue of international détente.

 Larisa Bogoraz continued her public work during the Perestroika and post-Perestroika years. She repeatedly addressed appeals to the Soviet government to declare a general amnesty for all political prisoners.  In October 1986 she initiated the political amnesty campaign, which was her last and most successful dissident action, supported by lots of well-known Soviet cultural figures. In January 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev started releasing political prisoners. It was, however, too late for Anatoly Marchenko, who died in December 1986 in the Chistopol prison.

In autumn 1989 Larisa Bogoraz joined the rehabilitated Moscow Helsinki Group, and was its co-chair for some time.

Starting from 1991 she supervised an educational human rights seminar for public organizations. From 1993 she was on the board of the Russian-American human rights group.

Larisa Bogoraz is also known as the author of articles on history and theory of human rights.

She died on the 6th of April 2004 in Moscow.



Tags: Russian literature Russian journalists Russian human rights activists Larisa Bogoraz  

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