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SOLZHENITSYN FOUNDATION (THE PUBLIC FOUNDATION FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES)

10.11.2006

The Public Foundation to help political prisoners and their families, known in the West as the SOLZHENITSYN FOUNDATION was a charity founded in the winter of 1973/74 by agreement between Aleksandr SOLZHENITSYN and Aleksandr GINSBURG, the latter in the spring of 1974 becoming the first curator of the Foundation. The Foundation continued, systematized and gave an organizational framework to the ad hoc and spontaneous collections taking place to help people facing political persecution (primarily families of political prisoners).. 

At the same time the creation of the Foundation effectively revived the pre-Revolution tradition of helping political prisoners which had continued through the first decades of Soviet rule and had stopped only in 1937 with the dissolving of Y.P. Peshkova’s Political Prisoners Assistance Committee (“Pompolit”) which had worked legally.

The main source of funding for the Foundation came from the royalties Solzhenitsyn received from the publication in different countries of the “Gulag Archipelago”, but money was also received in donations, including from which the USSR.  The work of the Foundation was strictly regulated and reports published. The role of curator of the Foundation, after Aleksandr GINSBURG’s arrest on 4 February 1977, was taken by his wife Orina Zholkovska-Ginsburg. After her emigration, the Foundation’s curators were Galina Sapova, Tatyana Kodorovich, Malva Landa, Kronid Lubarsk, Sergei Khodorovich, Andrei  Kistyakivsky and Sergei Mikhailov. There were also regional curators in a number of cities and regions of the USSR. In Ukraine such curators in different years included Vera LISOVA (Kyiv), Olena ANTONIV (Halychyna) and Yevhen Zakharov (Kharkiv). The Foundation provided lump sum aid to those released from prison, paid for visits by relatives to political prisoner and court costs. This activity involved many people who worked as volunteers for the Foundation, and by the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s the Foundation was one of the largest and most well-known dissident associations.

The Foundation curators and their assistance, as well as though whom the Foundation helped, were constantly subjected to court and extra-judicial persecution in the USSR (on 29 February 1984 additions were made to Articles 70  of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and 62 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR which made it possible to prosecute people for voluntary activity using money coming from abroad). In 1983 as the result of a complicated scenario from the KGB involving repression, pressure and provocations, any open activity by the Foundation ceased.

At the beginning of the 1990s the Solzhenitsyn Foundation resumed its work in Russia. It is now involved in publishing and helps victims of past political repression in need.

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