The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

NINETEEN
IDEOLOGICAL SUBVERSION
Part 1: The War Against the Dissidents

Soviet "dissidents" made their first public appearance on Constitution Day (December 5) 1965, when a group of about two hundred organized a demonstration in Pushkin Square, Moscow, in support of the authors Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel , who were shortly to go on trial accused of attempting to subvert the Soviet system through their writings. Some of the demonstrators briefly succeeded in unfurling banners reading "Respect the Constitution!" and "We Demand an Open Trial for Sinyavsky and Daniel!", before being frogmarched to the police station by plain clothes members of the KGB. Henceforth the term used to describe democratic and human rights activists in the Soviet Union was the English word "dissidents" rather than its Russian equivalent inakomysliashchii--probably as part of an official attempt to portray such people as stooges of the West rather than as the authentic voice of Russian protest.1

The KGB had been unusually slow to track the two writers down. Sinyavsky, using the pseudonym "Abram Tertz," had begun publishing his work in the West, initially in Paris, in 1959. His friend Daniel, employing the alias "Nikolai Arzhak," had followed suit in 1961. After extensive analysis of the publications of "Tertz" and "Arzhak" by Soviet writers and literary critics who were KGB agents and co-optees, opinion in the Centre was divided on their real identity. One school of thought claimed that the intimate knowledge of Moscow life displayed by both authors showed that they were living in the Soviet Union and had smuggled their work abroad for publication. This view was supported by the Paris residency, which forwarded a report that the manuscript for " Tertz" book, The Trial Begins (Sud Idyot), had reached France from Moscow. Others within the Centre sided with literary analysts who argued that "inaccuracies" in the authors' depiction of Moscow life showed that they were living in the West, and cited other (mistaken) KGB reports that both "Tertz" and "Arzhak" were living in western Europe.2 The KGB was further confused by the fact that Sinyavsky used a Jewish pseudonym, thus giving rise to the mistaken belief that he was Jewish himself. The official Soviet press later denounced the choice of pseudonym as "a squalid provocation." According to a writer in Izvestia:

By publishing anti-Soviet tales under the name of Abram Tertz in foreign publications, Sinyavsky was attempting to create the impression that anti-

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