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Pavel Litvinov

Pavel Mikhailovich Litvinov
Pavel Litvinov and Irena Grudzińska-Gross, reading for Natalya Gorbanevskaya, 2014
Native name Павел Михайлович Литвинов
Born (1940-07-06) July 6, 1940
Nationality Russian
Fields physics
Institutions Moscow State University of Fine Chemical Technologies, Hackley School
Alma mater Moscow State University
Known for human rights activism and participation in the 1968 Red Square demonstration and dissident movement in the Soviet Union

Pavel Mikhailovich Litvinov (Russian: Па́вел Миха́йлович Литви́нов, born 6 July 1940, Moscow) is a Russian physicist, writer, human rights activist and former Soviet-era dissident.


  • Biography 1
  • Other 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


Born as the grandson of Ivy Low and Maxim Litvinov, Joseph Stalin's foreign minister during the 1930s, Pavel Litvinov was raised amongst the Soviet elite. As a schoolboy, he was devoted to the cult of Stalin, and was tapped, unsuccessfully, by the KGB to report on his parents Flora and Misha Litvinov (a story that is related by the journalist David Remnick in his book Lenin's Tomb).

After Stalin's death in 1953 and the return of family friends from the labor camps, Pavel grew disillusioned with the Soviet system. He had a short-lived marriage when he was 17. While in his 20s, he became a physics teacher at the Institute for Chemical Technology. During his time at the Institute, Litvinov became acquainted with a group of intellectuals who were following the show-trials of the dissidents Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. His immersion in samizdat literature at this time brought him into contact with the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov and Robert Conquest.

Pavel Litvinov during his exile to Siberia

When writers Alexander Ginzburg and Yuri Galanskov were tried for publishing samizdat in 1967, Pavel Litvinov and Larisa Bogoraz released their famous "Appeal to World Public Opinion", appealing to the international public to protest against the closed trial. Over the following years, Litvinov became active in the dissident civil rights movement and was an editor of its regular samizdat bulletin Chronicle of Current Events. The periodical, founded in 1968, documented searches, arrests, and court proceedings in Russia and other Soviet states.

The historical banner of the Red Square demonstrators, For your freedom and ours.

Litvinov was one of the participants in the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (see Prague Spring), that had taken place four days earlier. Among the others were Larisa Bogoraz, a philologist, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a poet, Vadim Delaunay, poet, and Viktor Fainberg, an art critic. They raised banners in Czech and Russian, expressing support of the Czechoslovak independence and solidarity with Alexander Dubček, the Czechoslovak leader who was the architect of the Prague Spring.

The KGB promptly arrested the protesters, and their trial was held that October. Litvinov was sentenced to five years' exile in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai, Siberia.

In 1974, after his return from exile, he and his wife Maya left the Soviet Union to Vienna by train and from there to Rome until they moved to United States. In New York, he joined fellow émigré dissident Valery Chalidze in publishing A Chronicle of Human Rights in the USSR, which documented political repression.[1]:79

Litvinov currently lives in the United States, where he taught physics and mathematics at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York from 1976 until his retirement in 2006.[2]


Pavel Litvinov is a son-in-law of the dissident and literary scholar Lev Kopelev.[3] His son Dima Litvinov is an environmental activist with Greenpeace. In 2013, he was arrested as part of the Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise ship case.[3]

Pavel Litvinov is a member of the board of the Andrey Sakharov Foundation.[3]

In 2005 Pavel Litvinov participated in "They Chose Freedom", a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement

See also


  1. ^ Horvath, Robert (2005). The Legacy of Soviet Dissent: Dissidents, Democratisation and Radical Nationalism in Russia. BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies 17. London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon.  
  2. ^ Hackley School e-Connect newsletter, June 2, 2006, accessed July 23, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Litvinov, Pavel (2013-10-25). "Facing Russian prison for a peaceful protest".  


  • Litvinov, Pavel (1969). The Demonstration in Pushkin Square. Harvill Press.  
  • Litvinov, Pavel (1972). The Trial of the Four. A Collection of Materials on the Case of Galanskov, Ginzburg, Dobrovolsky, and Lashkova. New York: Viking Press.  
  • Litvinov, Pavel; van het Reve, Karl (1976). Dear Comrade: Pavel Litvinov and the Voices of Soviet Citizens in Dissent. National Textbook Co.  

External links

  • “No American 'Gulag'” - op-ed article by Litvinov in the Washington Post, published June 18, 2005
  • Павел Литвинов: «Я с гордостью назову себя либералом». (in Русский). 2015-05-21. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  • Интервью на Эхо Москвы (in Русский). Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  • "Параллели, события, люди. Семнадцатая серия. Павел Литвинов" [Parallels, events, people. The seventeenth part. Pavel Litvinov] (in Russian).  
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