In the world of Soviet dissidents known to the west, Medvedev stands out as the most prominent opponent of the regime who is...


ON SOVIET DISSENT: Interviews with Piero Ostellino

In the world of Soviet dissidents known to the west, Medvedev stands out as the most prominent opponent of the regime who is still a Marxist. These interviews with an Italian journalist give historian Medvedev the opportunity to bring out his differences with other dissidents, as well as his views on Soviet society in general. For Medvedev, the legitimacy of the regime itself is not in question; he favors the continued public ownership of the means of production, agriculture and small trade apart, and desires mainly the extension of political tights to include discussion about how best to achieve socialism. As a consequence, Medvedev is diligently legalistic; that is, he opposes the formation of illegal groups agitating for human rights in the USSR, and has consequently not joined any himself. In addition, he is careful to follow the letter of the law on publication, and so has avoided prison terms (though he lost his party membership, and therefore his job at a research institute, he continues to be published often abroad, and is still allowed access to his former institute's library). Medvedev is convinced that, in order for change to occur in the USSR, it must be initiated at the top, through what he calls ""democratic elements"" of the party and government; but when pressed to identify these elements, he can't provide any authentic examples. As a corollary to his acceptance of the regime and his adherence to legal forms, Medvedev opposes movements for the independence of any of the Soviet Union's nationalities, claiming that the existence of such movements is grossly exaggerated in the west. Feeling that the regime is not threatened by secessionist agitation, and regarding the government's increasing repressiveness as a sign of strength rather than weakness, Medvedev sees no reason to expect any big changes soon; but he continues his historical work aimed at recapturing the revolutionary past. Medvedev doesn't exactly represent a trend or a tendency among Soviet dissidents, but his singular voice is an important one; and in these interviews it comes across more clearly--and more plainly as a dead end--than anywhere else.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980