Obituary: Kronid Lyubarsky - Obituaries - News - The Independent

Obituary: Kronid Lyubarsky

Kronid Lyubarsky was one of the driving forces behind the human rights movement in Russia for over 25 years.

His life had a remarkable trajectory. He was an astrophysicist working on Soviet unmanned space flights to Mars when he was arrested in a clampdown on the democratic movement in 1972. At his trial he described his pride in reading about the Mars 2 space probe, even if it was from a prison-issue Pravda in his cell. He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, for "agitational propaganda", and when he got out was exiled - on no legal grounds whatsoever - to the tiny town of Tarusa in the Moscow region, where the authorities surveilled and harassed him daily and urged him to leave the Soviet Union.

He left in October 1977, and ended up in Munich, where he made the running with publications that brought Soviet political prisoners right into the centre of the western human rights movement - at a time when the KGB had finally crushed human rights journals inside the country.

For 13 years Lyubarsky's output was enormous. There was a bilingual news brief twice monthly; a yearbook of political prisoners complete with case details and family contacts; and a monthly journal called My Country and the World with analytical pieces from international contributors. All this was possible only because his prodigious contacts trusted him.

After 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kronid Lyubarsky went back to Moscow and became Deputy Editor of the prestigious New Times. Under him the weekly journal turned radical and always opposed the war against Chechnya.

Lyubarsky never became a human rights "celebrity". For a start his temperament was unsuited to it and he was basically too busy; moreover his work demanded that he was anonymous and in the background. But the impact of this rigorous, rational figure at the heart of the movement was enormous.

It was state censorship and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 which propelled him to human rights work, like a number of scientists of his generation. At his trial he put it like this: "For a scientist it is natural to strive to find out things for oneself.

"For me and people of my generation this idea is all the simpler in that we were reared in a peculiar era - an era when `the essence of all philosophy' was contained in chapter 4 of The Short History of the All Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and nowhere else. And that kind of upbringing bears its fruit. I will never take anyone at his word. Not later and not now."

In the Sixties and Seventies, when the personal risks were enormous, Lyubarsky helped to edit the first Soviet human rights journal, A Chronicle of Current Events (which ran from 1968 to 1981). It began as an effort to monitor what happened to the handful of people who protested against the Czech invasion, but became a compendium of political imprisonment throughout the 15 republics of the union, before it was finally crushed in 1981.

Lyubarsky also co- distributed political prisoners' aid, and was a member of Amnesty International in Moscow. In recent years he edited a new Human Rights Bulletin which is the most interesting and authoritative publication of its kind in Russia today.

Not long ago some of the Moscow media started referring to 30 October as "Political Prisoners' Day". This gave Lyubarsky wry gratification: it was the anniversary of his own trial, which he and other prisoners had turned into the first countrywide hunger strike in the 1970s, and made a yearly tradition.

In 1975, when the Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded Andrei Sakharov the Peace prize, Kronid Lyubarsky wrote to him from Vladimir prison: "Keep healthy, for God's sake, and may your fortress of a spirit never fail. We are all proud of you and send our love. We shall yet see the sky lit up for you." We did, and I think we shall yet see a salute to Kronid Lyubarsky.

Marjorie Farquharson

Kronid Arkadievich Lyubarsky, scientist and human rights campaigner: born Pskov, Soviet Union 4 April 1935; married 1959 Galina Salova (one daughter); died Indonesia 23 May 1996.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week