Exiled! From the Courtroom to the West.

In the early years of the America’s existence, the party in charge at the time, the Federalists, passed two very infamous acts into law. The Alien and Sedition Acts were created to try to save the Federalist’s image. The press at the time was not saying the best things about the party, criticizing many of their actions at the time. This was one of the first attempts to censor the press in American history. These acts would not last long due to all of the backlash since it directly opposed the very foundations that made America. Russia’s history with censorship is very different of that from the United States.

Sinyavsky and Daniel in the courtroom

On February 11, 1966, Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuly Daniel were put on trial for breaking “crimes specified in Part I of Art. 70 of the Russian Republic Criminal Code, charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.” Both Sinyavsky and Daniel for years wrote under pseudonyms agsinst the Sviet Government. Under Abram Tertz and one Nikolai Arzhak, the two wrote very popular books abroad about the “truth about the USSR.” An artickle titled “From the Courtroom: SLANDERERS” briefly talks about their writing history which “immediately attracted the attention of bourgeois ideological circles.” The article goes on to speak about,” the harm they have done our state, party, people and literature.”

The article was very critical about the image the two authors created internationally. Obviously, the 60’s was not a nice time for Russia’s international relations. 62 itself had both the Cuban Missile crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall. These authors big works were published in 1956 and 1961, and both times did not help Russia either. The U2 crisis erupted in 1960! Around all of these critical times, these two men were making it worse by spreading “lies” throughout the world. These writings may have been true, but obviously, the Russian government saw it as libel.

A funny cartoon over exaggerating Brezhnev’s eyebrows while depicting Russia’s arms and terrible treatment of its people.

So why is this such a big deal? Censorship has been present in Russia for years up till 1966. But Under Brezhnev’s regime, the constant persecution of groups shifted to the Intelligentsia. Brezhnev used the KGB’s “prophylactically” to intimidate these artists and writer from not producing Anti-Soviet products. This time of Russia’s history saw the greatest time of exile towards the Intelligentsia. Famous Russian names like Alesksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky were among this group. But something unique to these people were that they flocked to the United States more than any other exiled group before them. These people, educated Russians with Anti-Soviet minds, were valuable to the West. They would help the West combat the Soviet ideals while the Soviets would use newspapers like this article to combat the ways of the West. But these exiles were just one example of Brezhnev’s growing war against “expression.”

This post received a Comrades’ Corner Star


Freeze p. 437

Barker, Adele. The Russian Reader. p. 572

Russian Digest: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13762269




  1. D. Snell says:

    This was a great read. It is interesting how censorship still remained an issue in this Soviet period, as individual expression was being freely pursued socially. I also really liked the Brezhnev cartoon.


  2. mitchs13 says:

    Interesting post. It’s interesting to see how the Soviet Government applied the concept of free expression. It seems like free expression was allowed, as long as it wasn’t openly critical of the government. Further, I think your ending point about how the people who were exiled were used by the West to combat Soviet ideology.


  3. Very interesting to read about. Russia always has had censorship problems, stretching back to the czar, to the Soviet Union, and now under Putin. The Soviet’s lost a lot of intelligent people by cracking down on free speech; hurting the intelligentsia forced many of them out of the country and into the West, willing to work and strong with anti-Communist sympathies


  4. Tom Ewing says:

    The post explains the harsh treatment imposed on dissenters for speaking out against the Soviet system. It is important to realize, however, that the reforms implemented by Khrushchev and partially revoked by Brezhnev still allowed for more space for critical commentary than had ever been the case under Stalin or Lenin. In other words, by softening the regime, however partially, Stalin’s successors created opportunities for dissent that they then suppressed using coercive, but not destructive, means.


  5. I love how you drew parallels between Soviet censorship and the US’s formative years. Can you imagine if laws like the Alien and Sedition Acts became the norm? Of course, today they would be struck down because of the body of law that’s arisen around the 1st Amendment, but the Alien and Sedition Acts were never actually challenged in the Supreme Court in their time. If laws like the Alien and Sedition Acts became the norm, our common understanding of free expression under the 1st Amendment would surely be different, and we may have even ended up with cases like the one in this post!


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