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New Left Review I/60, March-April 1970


Tamara Deutscher

Soviet Oppositions

‘One day our company officer, Captain Usov, said to me: “You, Marchenko, are always dissatisfied, nothing suits you. But what have you ever done to make things better? All you wanted was to run away . . .”.’ Having read My Testimony and a few of Marchenko’s Open Letters one must come to the conclusion that Marchenko has done more, much more, than was in his power ‘to make things better’. [1] A. Marchenko, My Testimony, Pall Mall Press, 45s. The son of illiterate workers from the Siberian town of Barabinsk, he went, after eight years of schooling, as a Komsomol volunteer to build the hydro-electric power station at Novosibirsk. One day, after a drunken brawl among the young workers the police in one big swoop arrested all—guilty and innocent—who did not go into hiding and sentenced them summarily to one year’s imprisonment. Marchenko tried to escape from prison and made his way towards the Persian border. He was caught, charged with high treason, and sentenced to six years forced labour in what is euphemistically called a ‘centre for re-education’ of political prisoners.

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