Brezhnev & dissidence

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The dissidents

  • They weren't political opposition, they wanted freedom of expression.
  • Included writers, opposition to the war in Afghanistan & activities in nationalist, religious & human rights movements.
  • By mid-70s there were an estimated 10000 political & religious prisoners across the SU.
  • Solzhenistsyn= writer agianst censorship. Imprisoned several times; tried for treason in 1974.
  • Ginsburg= writer that wanted free expression. Arrested several times & sent to labour camps.
  • Sakharov= Scientist, who supported human rights & cooperation between the West & the East. Placed in internal exile in 1980. 

Brezhnev & Cultural freedom:

  • Attitude towards cultural freedom was similar dtothat of the last years of the Khrushchev era.
  • Culture was more restricted than in early Khrushchev era.
  • There was less emphasis upon socialist realism, a policy that meant art acted as propagnada, as it didn't allow any negativity.
  • More individualism was allowed in art & literature- no longer focused only on individuals' contribution towards socialism. 
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Dissidence

Prague Spring:

  • Major reforms by Dubcek caused concern in the USSR.
  • Aug 1958: Warsaw Pact forces invede Czechoslovakia & crush the Prague Spring.
  • Brezhnev Doctrine restored old order- USSR had right to intervene if the dominance of the Party was threatened.
  • Fuelled dissidence- some people protested against Soviet action in Czechoslovakia & were arrested, several leading writers, artists & scientists were expelled from the USSR.

Helsinki Accords:

  • August 1975= signed by most of Europe, & Canada & the USA.
  • Countries had to respect human rights.
  • Helsinki watch groups set up in 1976- citizens monitored the regime's adherence to human rights principles.
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Daniel & Sinyavsky

  • Were put on a trial in 1966- first public trial since Stalin era.
  • Sinyavsky= Literary critic, supporter of Paternak (Dr Zhivago)
  • Daniel= published anti-Soviet satirical writing abroad under a pseudonym between 1956-63.
  • Imprisoned for anti-Soviet propaganda- sent to labour camps.
  • Daniel was re-sentenced for continuing to protest so wasn't freed until 1988.
  • Sinyavsky emigrated to France in 1971 after being released.

Reactions to Treatment of Daniel & Sinyavsky:

  • Other intellectuals supported them & contacted foreign journalists, which encouraged more dissidence.
  • The regime was ridiculed & criticised abroad- realised public trial was a mistake.
  • 1967 KGB set up new section to combat further ideological diversions.
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