17 Facts About Anatoly Marchenko


Anatoly Tikhonovich Marchenko was a Soviet dissident, author, and human rights campaigner, who became one of the first two recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament when it was awarded to him posthumously in 1988.


Anatoly Marchenko gained international fame in 1969 through his book, My Testimony, an autobiographical account written after his arrival in Moscow in 1966 about his then-recent sentences in Soviet labour camps and prisons.


In 1968, in the run-up to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Anatoly Marchenko wrote an open letter predicting the invasion.


In 1976, Anatoly Marchenko became one of the founding members of the Moscow Helsinki Group, before being again arrested and imprisoned in 1981, where he kept writing throughout his prison time, publicizing the fate of Soviet political prisoners.


Anatoly Tikhonovich Marchenko was born on 23 January 1938, in Barabinsk, Novosibirsk Oblast, in the Siberia region of the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, to illiterate railway workers from a peasant background.


In 1958, while on a job at the Karaganda power station, Anatoly Marchenko ran into trouble which resulted in his first period of imprisonment: some exiled Chechens began a fight with some of the Russian workers in the hostel where Anatoly Marchenko was staying.


Anatoly Marchenko was tried for treason on 2 March 1961 - the charge of treason was because he supposedly intended to engage in work against the Soviet Union for money - in reality it was payback for his attempt to leave.

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In 1963, Anatoly Marchenko was moved from Vladimir back to the labour camp in Mordovia.


Anatoly Marchenko was released on 2 November 1966, and spent months travelling through the Russian SFSR, trying to find a locality which would allow him register to live there.


From May 1968, while still formally living in Alexandrov, Anatoly Marchenko was working in Moscow as a loader, the only job available to him, even though doctors had warned him not to do hard manual labour.


On 5 September 1967, Anatoly Marchenko announced to the authorities his association with the dissident circle by appearing at a search of the apartment of the mother of Alexander Ginzburg, the subject of another famous show trial.


Anatoly Marchenko soon began to focus on the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and on 22 July 1968, he wrote an open letter to a variety of publications, including Communist media in the West, about the situation there, predicting that the Soviet Union would not allow the 'Prague Spring' to continue.


Anatoly Marchenko was then sent to a camp in Perm Oblast, where he was scheduled to be released on 27 July 1969, but before that could happen he was tried on charges of "defamation of the Soviet political system", notionally for statements on the subjects of Czechoslovakia and human rights in the Soviet Union which he supposedly had made in while imprisoned in the camp.


On 23 August 1973, Anatoly Marchenko wrote to Kurt Waldheim, then-Secretary-General of the United Nations, expressing concern about the condition of another imprisoned writer.


In 1976, Anatoly Marchenko became one of the co-founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a prominent human right organization in Russia and the former Soviet Union.


The publication of this new book lead to his final arrest in 1980, and on 3 September 1981, Anatoly Marchenko went on trial again for "anti-Soviet agitation", and the next day was given a 15-year sentence: 10-years of imprisonment and 5-years of internal exile.


However, this proved too late for Anatoly Marchenko, who had died on December 8,1986, at the hospital of the prison in Chistopol, Tatar ASSR.