Natalya Yevgenyevna Gorbanevskaya
Наталья Евгеньевна Горбаневская
Gorbanevskaya at the balcony of the library "Russian abroad" (Русское Зарубежье), Moscow, 19 September 2005
Born(1936-05-26)26 May 1936
Died29 November 2013(2013-11-29) (aged 77)
CitizenshipSoviet Union (formerly) and Poland
Alma materLeningrad University
Occupation(s)Russian poet, translator of Polish literature, civil rights activist
Known forher participation in Soviet dissident movement, the 1968 Red Square demonstration, the editing of A Chronicle of Current Events and struggle against political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union
Movementthe dissident movement in the Soviet Union

Natalya Yevgenyevna Gorbanevskaya (Russian: Ната́лья Евге́ньевна Горбане́вская, IPA: [nɐˈtalʲjə jɪvˈɡʲenʲjɪvnə ɡərbɐˈnʲefskəjə] ; 26 May 1936 – 29 November 2013) was a Russian poet, a translator of Polish literature and a civil-rights activist. She was one of the founders and the first editor of A Chronicle of Current Events (1968–1982). On 25 August 1968, with seven others, she took part in the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1970 a Soviet court sentenced Gorbanevskaya to incarceration in a psychiatric hospital. She was released from the Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital in 1972, and emigrated from the USSR in 1975, settling in France. In 2005, she became a citizen of Poland.

Life in Moscow

Gorbanevskaya was born in Moscow. She graduated from Leningrad University in 1964 and became a technical editor and translator.[1] Only nine of her poems had been published in official journals by the time she quit the USSR in 1975; the rest circulated privately (samizdat) or were published abroad (tamizdat).

Dissident activities

From 1968 onwards Gorbanevskaya was active in what was later called the Soviet "dissident movement."

She was founder and first editor of A Chronicle of Current Events, a samizdat publication that focused on the violation of basic human rights in the Soviet Union. Her contribution was to compile and edit the reports, and then type the first six carbon copies of the issue, the "zero-generation" copy, for further replication and distribution.[2]

Gorbanevskaya was also one of eight protesters in the 25 August 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.[1] Having recently given birth, she was not immediately tried with the other demonstrators. She used this time to follow the trial in the Chronicle of Current Events,[3] and published the accumulated documentation abroad in French and Russian (Polden). The book appeared in English in 1972 as Red Square at Noon.

In 1969, she signed An Appeal to The UN Committee for Human Rights.[4]

In December 1969 Gorbanevskaya was arrested.[5] In July of the following year she was put on trial and found guilty of offences under Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, committed while of unsound mind. Gorbanevskaya was sentenced to indefinite confinement in a psychiatric hospital where she would be treated for "sluggish schizophrenia", a diagnosis commonly applied to dissidents.[6] Gorbanevskaya was released from the Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital in February 1972.[7]

Life in emigration

In December 1975, Gorbanevskaya emigrated to Paris.[1] There, French psychiatrists at their request examined Gorbanevskaya and found her to be mentally normal.[8] They concluded that in 1969–72 she had been committed to a psychiatric hospital for political, not medical reasons.[8]

For a time Gorbanevskaya was a celebrity figure in the West. In 1976 Joan Baez released a song dedicated to Gorbanevskaya called "Natalia", written by Roy Apps, Shusha Guppy and G.T. Moore, on the live album From Every Stage. Introducing the song, Baez criticized Gorbanevskaya's internment in the psychiatric hospital and said: "It is because of people like Natalya Gorbanevskaya, I am convinced, that you and I are still alive and walking around on the face of the earth."[1][9]

Adrienne Rich also wrote "For a Sister," from the book Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971–1972, in acknowledgement of Gorbanevskaya and other women and their wrongful imprisonment.[10]

For thirty years, however, Gorbanevskaya was stateless until Poland granted her citizenship in 2005.

In 2005 Gorbanevskaya took part in They Chose Freedom, a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement directed by Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.

In 2008, she was a signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism.[11]

On 29 November 2013, Gorbanevskaya died in her house in Paris.[1][12]

Commemoration rally on Red Square, 2013

In August 2013, on the 45th anniversary of her arrest in Red Square, Ms. Gorbanevskaya returned there with nine other demonstrators to commemorate the protest. They were arrested on charges of holding an unsanctioned rally.[13]


In 2008, October, Gorbanevskaya received Poland's Marie Curie Award.[14][15][16][17] The same year, Gorbanevskaya was nominated for the Angelus Central European Literature Award.[18]

On 22 October 2013 Gorbanevskaya received an honorary medal from Charles University in Prague for her lifelong commitment to the struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights.[19]

On 27 October 2014 Gorbanevskaya was awarded posthumously the highest Slovak award, the Order of the White Double Cross, for her lifelong efforts to defend democracy and human rights.[20]

Books and other publications

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Martin, Douglas (December 1, 2013). "Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Soviet Dissident and Poet, Dies at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  2. ^ A Chronicle of Current Events Nos 1- 11, 30 April 1968 to 31 December 1969.
  3. ^ A Chronicle of Current Events No 4, 30 October 1968 — 4.1 "The Trial of the Red Square demonstrators". Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Yakobson, Anatoly; Yakir, Pyotr; Khodorovich, Tatyana; Podyapolskiy, Gregory; Maltsev, Yuri; et al. (21 August 1969). "An Appeal to The UN Committee for Human Rights". The New York Review of Books.
  5. ^ A Chronicle of Current Events No 11, 31 December 1969 – 11.1 "The Arrest of Gorbanevskaya."
  6. ^ A Chronicle of Current Events No 15, 31 August 1970 – 15.1 "The Trial of Gorbanevskaya."
  7. ^ A Chronicle of Current Events No 24, 5 March 1972 – 24.10 "News in Brief."
  8. ^ a b Bloch, Sidney; Reddaway, Peter (1985). Soviet psychiatric abuse: the shadow over world psychiatry. Westview Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-8133-0209-6.
  9. ^ Rob Horning (4 December 2003). "Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 August 2014. Shusha Guppy herself also recorded it; it was included in her 1974 album Shusha.
  10. ^ Rich, Adrienne (2016). Collected poems: 1950-2012 (First ed.). New York London: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-28511-6.
  11. ^ "Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, June 3rd, 2008, Prague, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. List of Signatories". 3 June 2008.
  12. ^ "Умерла Наталья Горбаневская" [Natalya Gorbanevskaya died].
  13. ^ "Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Soviet Dissident and Poet, Dies at 77". The New York Times Dec 1, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  14. ^ "AKoss-Dyb. Natalia Gorbaniewska uhonorowana przez UMCS" (in Polish). Radio Lublin. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  15. ^ "Lublin: Doktorat honoris causa UMCS dla Natalii Gorbaniewskiej" (in Polish). Dziennik Wschodni. 2008-10-24. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  16. ^ "Natalia Gorbaniewska doktorem honorowym UMCS". Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish). 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  17. ^ "Natalia Gorbaniewska doktorem honorowym UMCS" (in Polish). Wirtualna Polska. 2008-10-24. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  18. ^ Zamojski, Marcin (2008-10-23). "Angelus Central European Literature Award". Translated by Dominika Chojnacka. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  19. ^ "Gorbanevskaya received medal from Charles University". Radio Prague. 2013-10-22. Archived from the original on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  20. ^ "Kiska vyznamenal demonštrantov proti okupácii v roku 1968" [Kiska decorated demonstrators against occupation in 1968] (Press release) (in Slovak). SITA. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2014-10-27.

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