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Dissident movement in Ukraine



The Initiative Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR was the first independent civic organization functioning openly in the USSR. It was formed in May 1969 on the initiative of Pyotr Yakir and Viktor Krasin. The Group was also joined by nine Muscovites: Tatyana Velikanova, Natalia Gorbanevskaya, Sergei Kovalyov, Aleksandr Lavut, Anatoly Levitin (Krasnov), Yury Maltsev, Grigory Podyapolsky, Tatyana Khodorovych and Anatoly Yakobson, from Leningrad Volodymyr Borisov, the Ukrainians Genrikh ALTUNIAN and Leonid PLYUSHCH, and the activist of the Crimean Tatar movement in Uzbekistan Mustafa Dzhemiliev.

The main work of the Group was in preparing appeals to international organizations (mainly the UN,  the Group received no replies to their letters). The letters focused on persecution of people for their convictions in the USSR, with particular attention being given to the use of punitive psychiatry, the defence and presentation of the demands of Soviet political prisoners. the documents of the Initiative Group were circulated in samizdat, and published by the western press, as well as on radio stations broadcasting to the USSR.

The Group did not have a particular structure or charter.

Most of the members from 1969 to 1979 suffered repression. The Initiative Group made no statement about ceasing its work however it effectively stopped in 1976 with the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group which took over its functions. The final document signed on behalf of the Initiative Group was a letter from the women’s labour camp in Mordovia from 17.11.1981.

In September 1973, after public renunciations by Pyotr Yakir and Viktor Krasin, the members of the Initiative Group still at liberty signed a statement which refuted their “confessions”

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