Leading Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky is dead at 76

Vladimir Bukovsky, the most famous surviving anti-communist Soviet dissident, has passed away.  The sad news broke almost simultaneously early Sunday evening E.T. in a tweet from journalist Diana West and a news release emailed by Elizabeth Childs of the Bukovsky Center.  In poor health in recent years, Bukovsky, age 76, according to Childs, had died of cardiac arrest at Addenbrookes Hospital near his home in Cambridge, England on Sunday evening at 9:30 P.M. local time.

Bukovsky had lived in the West since he was traded for a Chilean communist in a swap in Zurich in 1976.  Before his release to freedom, he had spent a dozen years locked up in the old Soviet Union in prisons, gulags, and mental institutions.


Vladimir Bukovsky at a conference in Amsterdam, 1987.
Credit: Rob C. Croes / ANeFo.

In 2019, Bukovsky's most substantive work, Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity, was finally published in English in the United States for the first time by Ninth of November Press.  The book is based on internal Soviet-era documents that Bukovsky got his hands on and managed to copy when he visited Russia under Boris Yelstsin's post-communist regime in the early 1990s.  Judgment in Moscow brought renewed attention on Bukovsky, and he was interviewed at length this year by several leading journalists, including Celia Farber, who wrote two extensive articles for the Epoch Times, one of them a Q&A she had on the phone with Bukovsky.

Farber's articles (here [link repaired] and here), and three lengthy interviews with Bukovsky by Jay Nordlinger published in the National Review (herehere, and here), really need to be read in their entirety to get a full appreciation of the richness in experience and analysis of this man who never sold out his principles.

Asked about the Left's ongoing charges of collusion between the Russians and Donald Trump, Bukovsky told Farber:

Mind you, the idea that he was initially somehow in cahoots with Moscow, ridiculous. I mean he is doing his thing, with some limitations in his understanding of Russia. But calling him a Moscow agent is ridiculous. You might like or dislike him. He has strong character, not very critical of himself, and so forth, but to suggest that he is Moscow's agent is absolutely ridiculous. ... The president is limited by legislation, by Congress, by whatever. It's not in his power to change the course of the country as much as they suggest. The president is only an executive officer and that's it.

Following the news of Bukovsky's death, journalist Diana West immediately employed her prolific Twitter account to share her thoughts about Bukovsky in a series of incisive tweets and an appreciation of him posted at her website. West wrote:

How do we mark the consequence and courage of such an extraordinary man who chose to lead his life in outspoken opposition to evil, who chose to sacrifice years of his life in Soviet labor camps and psychiatric hospitals rather than submit to communist slavery?

In many ways, Diana West is a Western intellectual counterpart to Bukovsky.  Her scholarship, especially in her 2013 book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character and more recently in The Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, has shed considerable new light on the decades-long collusion between many influential political and cultural leaders of the United States and the old Soviet Union.  As Farber concluded after speaking with  Bukovsky:

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, it turns out, was correct, but was the wrong messenger, and wound up derailing the cause of anti-communist awareness for half a century.

For more information, the Bukovsky Center website, run by volunteers, has been updated with news of Bukovsky's passing and will be an ongoing source of information.

A two-minute film clip of a clandestine 1970 video interview with Bukovsky in a park outside Moscow, with the caption "The man on camera [Bukovsky] risks his life by speaking," has been posted as a memoriam to him at YouTube here.

Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  Peter's website is http://peter.media.  Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

Vladimir Bukovsky, the most famous surviving anti-communist Soviet dissident, has passed away.  The sad news broke almost simultaneously early Sunday evening E.T. in a tweet from journalist Diana West and a news release emailed by Elizabeth Childs of the Bukovsky Center.  In poor health in recent years, Bukovsky, age 76, according to Childs, had died of cardiac arrest at Addenbrookes Hospital near his home in Cambridge, England on Sunday evening at 9:30 P.M. local time.

Bukovsky had lived in the West since he was traded for a Chilean communist in a swap in Zurich in 1976.  Before his release to freedom, he had spent a dozen years locked up in the old Soviet Union in prisons, gulags, and mental institutions.


Vladimir Bukovsky at a conference in Amsterdam, 1987.
Credit: Rob C. Croes / ANeFo.

In 2019, Bukovsky's most substantive work, Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity, was finally published in English in the United States for the first time by Ninth of November Press.  The book is based on internal Soviet-era documents that Bukovsky got his hands on and managed to copy when he visited Russia under Boris Yelstsin's post-communist regime in the early 1990s.  Judgment in Moscow brought renewed attention on Bukovsky, and he was interviewed at length this year by several leading journalists, including Celia Farber, who wrote two extensive articles for the Epoch Times, one of them a Q&A she had on the phone with Bukovsky.

Farber's articles (here [link repaired] and here), and three lengthy interviews with Bukovsky by Jay Nordlinger published in the National Review (herehere, and here), really need to be read in their entirety to get a full appreciation of the richness in experience and analysis of this man who never sold out his principles.

Asked about the Left's ongoing charges of collusion between the Russians and Donald Trump, Bukovsky told Farber:

Mind you, the idea that he was initially somehow in cahoots with Moscow, ridiculous. I mean he is doing his thing, with some limitations in his understanding of Russia. But calling him a Moscow agent is ridiculous. You might like or dislike him. He has strong character, not very critical of himself, and so forth, but to suggest that he is Moscow's agent is absolutely ridiculous. ... The president is limited by legislation, by Congress, by whatever. It's not in his power to change the course of the country as much as they suggest. The president is only an executive officer and that's it.

Following the news of Bukovsky's death, journalist Diana West immediately employed her prolific Twitter account to share her thoughts about Bukovsky in a series of incisive tweets and an appreciation of him posted at her website. West wrote:

How do we mark the consequence and courage of such an extraordinary man who chose to lead his life in outspoken opposition to evil, who chose to sacrifice years of his life in Soviet labor camps and psychiatric hospitals rather than submit to communist slavery?

In many ways, Diana West is a Western intellectual counterpart to Bukovsky.  Her scholarship, especially in her 2013 book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character and more recently in The Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, has shed considerable new light on the decades-long collusion between many influential political and cultural leaders of the United States and the old Soviet Union.  As Farber concluded after speaking with  Bukovsky:

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, it turns out, was correct, but was the wrong messenger, and wound up derailing the cause of anti-communist awareness for half a century.

For more information, the Bukovsky Center website, run by volunteers, has been updated with news of Bukovsky's passing and will be an ongoing source of information.

A two-minute film clip of a clandestine 1970 video interview with Bukovsky in a park outside Moscow, with the caption "The man on camera [Bukovsky] risks his life by speaking," has been posted as a memoriam to him at YouTube here.

Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  Peter's website is http://peter.media.  Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.