New Mag in Moscow

Sergei Grigoryants, who was released this February after serving ten of the last thirteen years in the severest Soviet prisons, is testing the limits of glasnost. He is courageously publishing in the Soviet Union a magazine called Glasnost that contains political, literary, cultural, and religious writings of a kind not seen in Russia since the early 1920s. In July Mr. Grigoryants arranged for me to get a copy of the fifty-six page magazine, which is issued on typewritten pages in a small number of copies. He had never met me before, but he knew that in 1976 I had taken out of the USSR Andrei Sakharov’s letter to President Jimmy Carter, which had influenced Carter’s human rights policy. Two weeks before we met he had asked the Soviet authorities for permission to publish the new magazine openly. Not having heard from his government, he risked his freedom by asking me to take Glasnost out of the country and try to get it published.

The magazine is remarkable. It contains the statement published below by Andrei Sakharov, originally written as a message on being awarded a prize in April by the publishers and editors of Catalan Spain “because of his conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev on human rights.” Another article on whether the free market economy and socialism can coexist concludes that “only free market relationships allow people to survive.” A third states that the entire Soviet bureaucracy is built on a “subsystem of fear,” and argues that only government-encouraged openness can end this fear. The magazine also contains a list of prisoners held in the terrible Christopol prison and calls for their release. It then sets forth notices of future political discussions and invites readers to attend them.

Mr. Grigoryants told me that Gorbachev’s “glasnost has a two year experimental period; if it does not seep in and change the society there will be a backlash and I may well go back to jail.” Reforms, he said, will take at least fifteen to twenty years. As we spoke, we knew we were being watched. While today the KGB presence is not as visible as it was, and there is less feeling of oppression and fewer political billboards, none with Gorbachev’s picture, most of the dissidents I spoke to were under heavy supervision. At the end of each day they had to report to the police whom they had spoken to and what was said.

Sergei Grigoryants knew that my publishing this article would put him at enormous risk, but he believes, as does Andrei Sakharov, that “a man may hope for nothing yet nonetheless speak because he cannot remain silent.” If glasnost means anything it means that Sergei will not be arrested and that he will be free to publish thirty-six issues a year of Glasnost.

Martin Garbus

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