Obituary: Ales damovich

Alexander (Ales) Mikhailovich Adamovich, writer and politician: born Koniukhi, Minsk Oblast 1927; married; died 26 January 1994.

BETWEEN 1987 and 1989 the Belarussian writer Ales Adamovich was in the news in the Russian media nearly every day, and became a celebrity and a public figure. It was he who broke silence on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster. In those days when it was still difficult to criticise the Soviet government, he managed to find honest television reporters and bring them to the Chernobyl region and show the camera children born without arms and legs. Moscow News used to organise monthly discussions of the government-cover up chaired by Adamovich. Around 1987 President Mikhail Gorbachev was asking, who was this man who dared speak up so loudly about Chernobyl?

He was born Alexander Adamovich in 1927 at the village of Koniukhi in Minsk Oblast. Both his parents were doctors. At the age of 15 he joined them to fight the Germans as a partisan in occupied territory. After the war he graduated from a medical institute, and from the philology faculty of Belarussian State University in Minsk. This was 1953, the year when he published his first article about Belarussian prose.

He continued his studies and eventually took his PhD, and then entered the Higher Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors attached to Mosfilm Studio in Moscow. He was made a corresponding member at the Belarussian Academy of Sciences, and in the early Sixties accepted a teaching post at Moscow State University.

In September 1965 the KGB arrested two writers, Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, who, under the pseudonyms 'Abram Terz' and 'Nikolai Arzhak', had published books critical of Soviet Communism. In February the following year they were convicted after a sensational and well-documented trial. The Moscow University authorities composed a letter in which they welcomed the trial and punishment and suggested that lecturers should sign it. Many did, but Adamovich refused and was fired.

His life returned to normal only when Gorbachev took over in March 1985. In 1987 he became Director of the All-Union Research Institute of Cinema in Moscow, deputy chairman of the USSR Commission at Unesco and co-chairman of the Memorial Public Council. This organisation, although intended to be concerned with historical information, was in practice a strong political opposition group, and Adamovich was one of its leaders. It is this group which exposed the scale of the Chernobyl disaster and the Gorbachev government's attempt to belittle it.

In 1989 Adamovich was elected a member of the Soviet parliament and he was often seen on Russian television in debates. He was much disliked by Communist hardliners.

In 1991-92 he was acting co-chairman of the Secretariat of the Union of Soviet Writers. But his main literary period was between 1965 and 1985, under Leonid Brezhnev, when there was strict censorship. Although he was a member of the Soviet Writers Union he could not tell the whole truth about the horrors of the partisan war in Belarussia during the Second World War and could not say a word about NKVD-led punitive squads in his war books - the two-volume Partisans (1960-63), his novella Victory (1965) and The Khatyn Story (1974). But for his war stories he was awarded a literary prize by the Russian Ministry of Defence. He also won a Belarussian State Prize.

Adamovich wrote several informative books for philology students with titles such as Problems in the Genre of the Novel, The Path to Mastery and A Belarussian Novel in Verse.

In 1988 he created a sensation with an article in Ogonek weekly about NKVD mass murders at the Belarussian village of Kuropaty. A decent and honest man, popular with his colleagues at the Cinema Institute in Moscow, for his last six years he was at the centre of Moscow's political and cultural life.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project