OBITUARY : Anna Larina

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The Independent Online
Anna Larina dedicated her whole life to the rehabilitation of her husband, the prominent Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin, who was executed by Stalin in 1938. She started her campaign for his rehabilitation in 1962. It took her 26 years to win her cause.

She was born Anna Lurie, daughter of a committed Jewish socialist and economist, Mikhail Lurie, who later changed his name to Yuri Larin. He was first a Menshevik but later joined the Bolsheviks. Anna met Bukharin when she was 15, when he came to her school in Moscow to give a talk.

Afterwards Bukharin often visited her family's flat to discuss economic matters with her father.

Larin died in 1932 and was buried in the Kremlin Wall on Red Square. Two years later Anna Larina became Buk-harin's (second) wife. He was 26 years her senior. By this time, being opposed to Stalin, he had been fired from the Politburo (on 17 November 1929) but was appointed the editor- in-chief of the newspaper Izvestia. In 1936 he and Larina vis- ited several European countries, where he secretly met Russian opposition leaders in exile. In August that year Stalin's prosecutor-in-chief, Andrei Vyshinsky, announced the beginning of investigations into Bukharin's activities during a show trial of the politicians Lev Kamenov and Grigory Zinoviev, who were executed on Stalin's orders soon afterwards.

Bukharin was arrested at a meeting of the Central Communist Party Committee on 27 February 1937 together with several others, including the politician Alexei Rykov. In the atmosphere of frenzied vilification then reigning - which was extreme even by Stalinist standards - all ten were executed as "right-of-centre Trotskyists". Not until 1987, as a result of a sensational serialisation of Larina's memoirs in the weekly magazine Moscow Ogonek ("Small Light"), did it become known that Bukharin had confessed to the monstrous accusations made about him only after the promise was given not to arrest Larina and to spare her life. Of course the first part of this promise was broken immediately after Bukharin's execution on 13 March 1938.

On Stalin's order Larina was arrested and spent nearly 20 years in various camps in the gulag. In 1962, several years after her release, she wrote to President Nikita Khrushchev asking him to re-open Bukharin's case and rehabilitate him. Her request was refused and for the next 26 years she wrote in vain to all relevant Soviet organisations and authorities. In 1987 she handed over Bukharin's last letter to Moscow News, and during the perestroika years of the mid-Eighties, published all Bukharin's archive.

In 1988 she received a document from President Mikhail Gorbachev, effecting Buk-harin's complete rehabilitation. During 1990-91, she carried out a lecture tour around Europe; she was already ill, but her tragic fate, her determination, and her loyalty to her husband touched the hearts of millions. She published her memoirs, Nezabyvaemoe ("This I Cannot Forget"), in 1991.

Jeanne Vronskaya

Anna Mikhailovna Lurie (Larina): born Moscow 27 January 1914; married 1934 Nikolai Bukharin (died 1938; one son); 1945 Fyodor Fadeyev (died 1959; one son, one daughter); died Moscow 24 February 1996.

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