Aleksandr Ilyich “Alik” Ginzburg

Aleksandr Ilyich “Alik” Ginzburg

Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Death 19 Jul 2002 (aged 65)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 98860913 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Aleksandr I. Ginzburg was a Russian journalist, poet, human rights activist and dissident. He was the son of Sergei Chizhov (an architect). His father died in 1937. His mother, an economist, died in 1981 in Paris. Aleksandr married Irina S. (Arina) Zholkovskaya in 1969. They had two children: Alexandre, and Alexis.

During the Soviet period, Ginzburg edited the samizdat poetry almanac Sintaksis. Between 1961 and 1969 he was sentenced three times to labor camps. In 1979, Ginzburg was released and expelled to the United States, along with four other political prisoners (Eduard Kuznetsov, Mark Dymshits, Valentin Moroz, and Georgi Vins) and their families, as part of a prisoner exchange.

Throughout his career, Ginzburg advocated nonviolent resistance. He believed in exposing human rights abuses by the Soviet Union and pressuring the government to follow its own laws. He made an effort to smuggle his writings abroad in order to increase external pressure on the Soviets.
Alexander Ginzburg is one of the founders of the human rights movement in the former Soviet Union. As a student of Moscow Institute at the Moscow Institute of History & Archives in 1960, he founded the first independent magazine in the Soviet Union "Syntaxes". It contained literary works by underground poets and writers, some later becaming leading figures of modern Russian literature. For this "Samizdat" publishing Ginzburg was jailed in 1960 for two years.

Upon being released in 1962, he continued to be a champion of the independent press. After the infamous "Daniel and Sinyavsky" trial, Ginzburg compiled the "White Book" which provided the first detailed account of the Soviet political trial. For that, the Soviet authorities punished Ginzburg in 1967 with another 5 year term of imprisonment. This publication as well as the Ginzburg's and his friends trial helped to mobilize world public opinion in support of the Soviet dissidents which helped the dissident movement to persist and prevail.

Released in 1972 Ginzburg continued his activities, and became one of the central figures of the human rights movement in the USSR. He was the first director of the Fund to Help Political Prisoners , founded by Alexander Solzhenitsin. Once again, Ginzburg was one of the initiators of the much needed support for persecuted dissidents and their families. Solzhenitsin's Fund was always a great help and encouragement to the democratic movement throughout its existence.

In 1977 Alexander Ginzburg became one of the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group and its first member to be arrested shortly after that. He was sentenced to more than ten years of labor camps and exile. Yet, in 1979, under the growing pressure of world public opinion, Ginzburg together with four other leading dissidents was released to the West.

In exile, Ginzburg settled first in the US and later moved to Paris, traveling extensively around the world. He used his visibility and access to world political leaders to campaign actively on behalf of his fellow dissidents still persecuted in the Soviet Union. He also became very active in print and radio journalism. His articles of the late eighties contained the most profound and detailed account of the last years of the Soviet Union and predicted many further developments.
"The New York Times" July 20, 2002

"Aleksandr I. Ginzburg, 65, Poet Who Challenged Soviet System, Is Dead"


leksandr I. Ginzburg, a poet and a frequently jailed dissident in the Soviet Union who fought for human rights during the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras, died yesterday in his adopted city of Paris. He was 65. No cause of death was given.

Mr. Ginzburg was an advocate of nonviolent change who sought to embarrass the Soviet authorities by pressing them to respect their own laws. He also sought to increase external pressure on the Soviet Union to show more respect for individual rights by smuggling out information about abuses to the West so that it could be broadcast back to the Soviet people by Western radio stations.

After nine years in prisons and labor camps, Mr. Ginzburg and four others were flown to the United States in 1979 in exchange for two convicted spies.

He had attracted the attention of the Soviet authorities in 1959, with a typewritten magazine called Syntax, containing bitter poems that reflected his generation's anger and disillusionment with the Soviet Union. It became the first of the so-called samizdat (or self-published) journals of the post-Stalin period.

After three issues, Mr. Ginzburg was expelled from Moscow University, arrested by the K.G.B. and put in Lubyanka prison.

In 1967 he was arrested again for compiling what he called a "White Book" about the trial of the dissident writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky and smuggling it to the West. He was sentenced to five years in a labor camp.

In 1974, he agreed to administer a fund established by the exiled Soviet writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, to aid the families of political prisoners. He was also active in Helsinki Watch, an organization set up to monitor the Soviet Union's compliance with the human rights commitments in the Helsinki accords, which it signed in 1975.

The upshot of Mr. Ginzburg's renewed dissident activities was another trial, in 1978, which resulted in an eight-year term.

Questioned by the judge, he said he was "born in the Gulag Archipelago" — a reference to Mr. Solzhenitsyn's classic account of the Soviet prison camp system. Asked his nationality, he replied "zek" — prisoner.

He served eight months before the Carter administration succeeded in exchanging him after an international outcry.

Born in Moscow in 1936, Mr. Ginzburg was interested in poetry and theater as a teenager but was also an accomplished athlete. Although he was a practicing Russian Orthodox, he adopted his mother's Jewish family name as a young man to protest Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns.

After leaving the Soviet Union, he settled in Paris, working as a journalist on an émigré magazine. He is survived by his wife, Arina, and two sons.




  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Debra Polly
  • Added: 14 Oct 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 98860913
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Aleksandr Ilyich “Alik” Ginzburg (21 Nov 1936–19 Jul 2002), Find A Grave Memorial no. 98860913, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .