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New Left Review I/62, July-August 1970


Tamara Deutscher

Soviet Fabians and Others

Reading the clandestine political literature which percolates from the ussr to the West through ever-widening channels, it is evident that two Russias exist side by side: le pays légal and le pays réel. We become familiar with more and more names of Soviet dissenters and protesters, with those who sign Open Letters, appeals, theses, manifestoes, and even full scale volumes which all circulate in Samizdat, slipping out of the tightest net of the censorship. Dramatically and tragically the pays légal with its legalized lawlessness impinges on the pays réel: when a dissenter is hauled out to prison, to a labour camp, or—final perfidy—to a lunatic asylum. It also happens, though much more rarely, that pays réel proves stronger: when a victim of bureaucratic persecution makes his way back from detention into freedom. Thus the biologist Jaurès Medvedev was retrieved from a psychiatric ‘hospital’ as a result of pressure from Keldych, the President of the Academy of Sciences, and such famous scientists as Kapitza and the half-dissenting Sakharov. To their voices was added that of Solzhenitsyn, who, though himself in the authorities’ bad books, probably owes his impunity to his reputation in Russia and abroad.

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