Viktor Fainberg
Виктор Файнберг
Fainberg in 2014
Born(1931-11-26)26 November 1931[1]
Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, USSR[2]: 195, 200 
Died2 January 2023(2023-01-02) (aged 91)
CitizenshipRussian, French
EducationPhilology of the English language and literature
Alma materLeningrad University
Occupation(s)Philology, politics
Known forParticipation in the dissident movement in the Soviet Union, the 1968 Red Square demonstration and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse which led the struggle against political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union
MovementDissident movement in the Soviet Union
PartnerMarina Voikhanskaya
Parent(s)Isaac Fainberg and Sarah Dashevskaya
AwardsMedal of the President of the Slovak republic

Viktor Isaakovich Fainberg (Russian: Ви́ктор Исаа́кович Фа́йнберг; 26 November 1931 – 2 January 2023) was a Russian philologist, prominent figure of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union, participant of the 1968 Red Square demonstration,[2]: 195  and the director of the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse.[3][4][5][6]


Viktor Fainberg was born to the married couple of Isaac Fainberg and Sarah Dashevskaya. While attending school during an antisemitic campaign of 1948-1952, he was subjected to harassment that, in his own words, he did not reconcile himself to, but entered the fray with an abuser. As the result of these frays, he got a referral to a psychiatrist.

In 1957, in connection with antisemitic insult, he had a fight with a policeman and for this reason was sentenced to 1 year of corrective labor.[7]

In 1968, he graduated from the English unit of the philological department of Leningrad University where he defended his diploma thesis about writer Salinger with distinction. In the summer of 1968, Fainberg worked as a guide at Pavlovsk Palace.[2]: 195 

Fainberg was one of the seven persons who participated in the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet-led military invasion of Czechoslovakia.[8]: 77  During the demonstration and his arrest, he lost many teeth and in this unpresentable state was never presented for trial; instead, he was placed to a psychiatric hospital.[9]: 147 

Fainberg was examined by the Serbsky Institute commission composed of G.V. Morozov, D.R. Lunts and Y.L. Lindau. In their act No 35 / s dated 10 October 1968, they did not mention the invasion of Czechoslovakia, which gave rise to this demonstration, the action was merely described as 'disorderly conduct at Red Square,' and Fainberg's mental condition was described as follows:[10]

With enthusiasm and strong obsession he expresses ideas of reformism as to Marxism classics' teaching, while revealing clearly his increased self-esteem and firm belief in his rightness. At the same time, his remarks about his family, parents, and son reveal his emotional flatness... In the Institute department, one can note his unconcern, indifference to himself and others in his outwardly orderly behavior. He is occupied with gymnastics, rubdown, reading books, and studying literature in English. His insight into his condition and the emerged situation is clearly insufficient.[2]: 201, 202 [10]

As a result, he was committed for compulsory treatment to the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Leningrad where he was confined from January 1969 to February 1973.[8]: 77 [10]

At the hospital, Fainberg went on hunger strike in protest, was subjected to forced feeding and was treated with chlorpromazine despite his hyperthyroidism that was somatic contraindication to chlorpromazine therapy.[10]: 122 

Marina Voikhanskaya, a psychiatrist at the hospital, assisted Fainberg by passing information about him to dissidents outside. She was demoted for this activity which helped Fainberg be released. In 1974, Fainberg emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel, and Marina Voikhanskaya emigrated to the UK in 1975.[11][12]

In emigration, Fainberg initiated the formation of "Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuses" (CAPA) to fight punitive psychiatry in the USSR.[4] In 1983, the Soviet Union was expelled from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA).[11]

Fainberg died on 2 January 2023, at the age of 91.[13][14]


On 27 October 2014, along with other three dissenters from summer of 1968, Fainberg was decorated by Slovak President Andrej Kiska for his show of solidarity to Czechoslovakia. He received the Medal of the President of the Slovak republic along with Vladimir Dremlyuga and Pavel Litvinov. Natalya Gorbanevskaya received the highest Slovak award, Order of the White Double Cross, in memoriam.[15]

British playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour dedicated to Vladimir Bukovsky and Viktor Fainberg.[4][16]: 359 

Fainberg has a daughter, Sarah, who is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.[17]


  1. ^ Толстой, Иван; Гаврилов, Андрей (22 November 2011). "Юбилей правозащитника Виктора Файнберга" [The jubilee of human rights activist Viktor Fainberg]. Радио Свобода (in Russian). Radio Liberty.
  2. ^ a b c d Казнимые сумасшествием: Сборник документальных материалов о психиатрических преследованиях инакомыслящих в СССР / Редакторы: А. Артёмова, Л. Рар, М. Славинский (PDF). Франкфурт-на-Майне: Посев. 1971.
  3. ^ McKane, Richard (October 2001). "Poems from the Arsenal". Index on Censorship. 30 (4): 102–106. doi:10.1080/03064220108536983. S2CID 147323974.
  4. ^ a b c Банчик, Надежда (11–17 January 2008). "Виктор Файнберг: Одна жизнь и покушение в Париже". Интернет-газета «Мы здесь». Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ Harper, Catherine (28 April 1977). "Where dissent may spell torture of mind and body". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7.
  6. ^ Heinrichs, Paul (22 April 1977). "Tortured activist wants Russia condemned". The Age. p. 11.
  7. ^ "Люди августа 1968... - ПОЛИТ.РУ". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b van Voren, Robert (2009). On Dissidents and Madness: From the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin. Amsterdam—New York: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2585-1.
  9. ^ Mount, Ferdinand (1993). Communism: a TLS companion. University of Chicago Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0226543246.
  10. ^ a b c d Прокопенко, Анатолий (1997). Совершенно секретно Безумная психиатрия: секретные материалы о применении в СССР психиатрии в карательных целях (in Russian). Москва. ISBN 978-5-85275-145-4. Archived from the original on 19 February 2010.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) (The Russian text of the book in full is available online on the website of the organization "Help for Psychiatric Survivors")
  11. ^ a b Жаворонкова, Юлия (November–December 2000). "Частушки в контексте вялотекущей шизофрении". Журнал "Пчела": Обозрение деятельности негосударственных организаций Санкт-Петербурга (30). Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  12. ^ Hurst, Mark (2017). British human rights organisations and Soviet dissent, 1965-1985. London. pp. 47–68. ISBN 9781350054417.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link).
  13. ^ Подосокорскийwrote, Николай; philologist, Николай Подосокорский. "Умер диссидент Виктор Исаакович Файнберг". Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Виктор Файнберг. Ахарай". Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  15. ^ "Kiska vyznamenal demonštrantov proti okupácii v roku 1968" [Kiska decorated demonstrators against occupation in 1968] (Press release) (in Slovak). SITA. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  16. ^ Caute, David (2005). The dancer defects: the struggle for cultural supremacy during the Cold War. Oxford University Press. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-19-927883-1.
  17. ^ Levy, Elias (31 March 2015). "La Russie de Poutine, les Juifs et Israël". The Canadian Jewish news (in French).



The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes videotaped Fainberg's spoken autobiography in Russian: