THE CHORNOVIL PAPERS by Vyacheslav Chornovil


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The suppression of political heretics in the Soviet Union has caused much post-cold-war anti-Soviet feeling among Western intellectuals. The Chornovil Papers, doubtless, will bolster that feeling. The book is a collection of writings which document, protest, and mourn the fate of twenty Ukrainian intellectuals (writers, artists, scientists, and academicians) who were tried secretly in 1965 and imprisoned for crimes against the state. The author, a thirty-year-old Soviet television newsman who covered the trials, was so appalled by the proceedings that he wrote a 0,000 word protest to the Ukrainian Public Prosecutor. That document, letters from prisoners and their apologists, and background polemics comprise this volume, which, unfortunately, can serve only as a ragged bag of source material. It lacks the focus, clarity, careful introduction, and, ultimately, the importance of Max Hayward's translation of the Daniel-Sinyavsky trial transcript (On Trial, 1966), which sparked the spate of anti-Soviet documentaries by Soviet citizens. The Daniel-Sinyavsky trial marked the first known time that Soviet writers were put on trial for what they had written. Their plight became a cause celebre among the Western intelligentsia. According to Chornovil's account, the purge in the Ukraine occurred a year before the Daniel-Sinyavsky proceedings. But the Kremlin has yet to acknowledge that they occurred. These events (floridly and passionately described) will remind the reader, as they do Chornovil, of the ruthless Soviet past ""when a rabbit could be forced to admit that he was a camel."" The book's title in Ukrainian is The Misfortune of Being Intelligent.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1968
Publisher: McGraw-Hill