PRISON DIARIES by Edward Kuznetsov


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Kuznetsov is something of a professional Gulag inmate, having been first detained for a seven-year sentence in his early twenties, then arrested again in 1970, only eighteen months after his re-ease, for conspiring to hijack a plane with ten other Zionists and emigrate to the West. The charge was treason and Kuznetsov was condemned to death. His sentence was later commuted to fifteen years in a ""special regime"" camp and this diary (smuggled out by friends including an aunt married to dissident physicist Sakharov) of the events from Kuznetsov's preparation for his trial and his account of the proceedings themselves through his transportation back to his prison alma mater, records his fear, his spunky indignation, and, often enough, his boredom. His philosophizing about the old and new Russia sometimes suffers from banality; his survey of his depraved and dehumanized fellow prisoners is an old, if horrible, story. It is Kuznetsov himself -- his impossible foolhardiness and striking individualism -- who sustains these diaries. That he protests at all, however pathetically, is a more significant demand for notice than any expose of conditions in the courts and the camps. Martyrdom is a curious expression of activism that Kuznetsov flirts with incessantly. He testified that his motives were not political but that he was guided by ""considerations of a spiritual and moral character."" Unfailing considerations for Kuznetsov -- the inevitable troublemaker with a wagging tongue and a constitutional inability to conform.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day