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Mikhail Kaluzhsky: Arseny Roginsky - Giving Russia its history back [OpenDemocracy]

posted 20 Dec 2017, 11:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Dec 2017, 14:26 ]
20 December 2017

Source: OpenDemocracy [in Russian]

On 18 December, Arseny Roginsky, historian, dissident and one of the founders of Russia’s Memorial society, passed away. He will be sorely missed.

“For me, the archive (and I mean, of course, only literary and historical archives) is the natural continuation of the library. And unpublished archival documents are in no way different from published documents, you can treat them as accidentally unpublished or as-yet-unpublished. I believe it’s necessary to explain this now because I often meet people far from historical research who are sincerely convinced that archives always contain classified documents, or documents that might defame someone or something. And that’s why they only let chosen people into archives, people endowed with some ‘special trust’, and that that’s how it should be. This idea of what an archive is, is, of course, completely mistaken. Just as mistaken as an attempt to classify documents as more important or less important, more valuable or less valuable. Every document is important, every document is valuable as evidence of our past.”

This quotation is not from a lecture or an excerpt from a public discussion. It is Arseny Roginsky’s final statement (called “The status of a historian in the USSR) before a Soviet court, and he made it on 4 December 1981, after which Roginsky was sentenced to four years in prison. Formally, Roginsky was sentenced for “forging documents”, but in reality, for samizdat, his work on the underground historical journal Memory. [Read more]

Note by John Crowfoot: 

The account of Arseny Roginsky's trial in the "Chronicle of Current Events" is included in Issue 63, and is item 5 in the contents (immediately after a report on Anatoly Marchenko's last trial). The pdf file containing the full text can be found at this URL -

CCE 63 was not circulated in the USSR until March 1983, for reasons of size (230 typescript pages) and of the pressure the surviving editors were then facing. It was released in an English translation by Amnesty International in July 1983. Only one more issue of the Chronicle would be compiled (CCE 64, 30 June 1982) and it was not circulated until August 1983, or translated and published by Amnesty until February 1984.