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Yuli Daniel 1925 - 1988

Russian educator who struggled for prisoners' rights in the Soviet Union

A Russian literature teacher, writer and translator, Daniel published several stories in the West (Report from Moscow, Atonement, Hands) under the pseudonym Nikolai Arzhak. Exposed and arrested, he was tried along with Andrei Sinyavsky and sentenced in February 1966, at the end of an unprecedented trial that caused a sensation in Soviet society and in the West because the accused entered a plea of not guilty and vehemently protested that literature was not the competence of the courts. He was sentenced to 5 years’ hard labour but continued to struggle for prisoners’ rights, often being forced into solitary confinement. He managed to smuggle a cycle of poems (Verses from prison, 1971) out of the camp. At the end of his sentence, he was banned from living in Moscow and settled in Kaluga. A major volume of Letters from prison was recently published at the initiative of his son.

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The difficult defense of human dignity

In communist totalitarianism

The Gulag as the organized system of soviet labor camps was a powerful instrument for the extermination of entire groups of citizens by the communist totalitarian regime, in the USSR since half of the Twenties and then by emulation of the other countries of the communist bloc, both in Europe and in the Far East.
Through terror, the regime exerted an iron grip over the population who completely submitted to the regime. 

For those who opposed the regime the question was not about risking their lives to rescue other human beings, but to save their true identity at the cost of their life. Through this, indirectly, other lives were saved and this courageous kind of moral resistance contributed to the collapse of the Soviet empire, which collapsed at the end of 1989.