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Anatolii Tikhonovich Marchenko

Anatolii Marchenko, USSR Author.


  • Marchenko, Anatolii was born on January 23, 1938 in Barabinsk, Western Siberia. Son of a railway worker.

  • Career

    • Employed as a construction worker on a Siberian hydroelectrical project. His arrest after a brawl in a workers’ hostel led to his first stay at a camp in Karaganda in Kazakhstan in 1957. Tried to escape to Iran via the Turkmen Soviet Republic.

      Arrested near the border in Ashkhabad and sentenced for high treason in 1960. This led to a succession of imprisonments and exiles. Wrote extremely forceful accounts of his experiences in the prisons and camps.

      Unusual among the dissidents, being genuinely working class. Solely by his own efforts, made himself into an important writer and one of the most respected figures in dissident circles. In Mordovian camps and the notorious Vladimir prison from 1960-1966, also worked as a labourer in Aleksandrov near Moscow.

      His book, My Testimony, which circulated in samizdat, was smuggled abroad, published in Russian, and in 1969, translated into English (and later into other major languages). Wrote an Open Letter in 1968 trying to warn the population of Czechoslovakia about the possibilty of an invasion. The Letter was broadcast by the BBC to Eastern Europe.

      Again arrested in 1968. Sentenced to a year in a labour camp in the Northern Urals. In 1971, released. Married Larisa Bogoraz, former wife of Iulii Daniel.

      Allowed to live in a writers’ colony in Tarusa in Kaluga Oblast’. Again in camps and prisons in 1975, charged with having broken the terms of his parole. Sent to Chuna, this time for 4 years.

      Wrote the book From Tarusa to Chuna. In 1981, again arrested for anti-Soviet agitation, given a 10-year sentence to be followed by 5 years internal exile. Permanent suffering and continuous hunger strikes ruined his health.

      Became almost deaf as a result of meningitis. Not allowed to see his wife and son, a measure clearly intended to break his spirit. Due to international pressure, given permission to emigrate, but only to Israel with his Jewish wife.

      Refused, stating that this would deflect the whole point of his long struggle. After a long illness, died at Chistopol’ prison in the Tatar Republic. Became a symbol of courage among the intelligentsia.
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    Born January 23, 1938
    Died 1987
    (aged 48)