Remembering a Dissident

yuri-glazovOne day, when I was nine years old, my father and I were on our way to Church. As we neared the entrance, I spat on the ground. Reflexively, my dad’s arm shot out across my chest like a railway barrier, blocking my motion forward. We stood there, frozen in time, for some three seconds until my father uttered, in a very serious but patient way: “It is ok to spit outside of KGB headquarters, but never in front of a place such as this.” I registered the message and indicated my understanding — and we proceeded on our way.

That was my dad’s moral clarity and sharp, quick-witted way with words; and the sacred values that spawned those words made a profound impression on me from the moment of my birth. I was born into a family of Russian dissidents — a father and a mother, Yuri and Marina Glazov, who put their clenched fists up and went toe-to-toe with the Evil Empire.

Throughout my youth, my dad shared many stories with me, which included how he had always been aware, even in his youth, that he existed in a slave camp masquerading as a country and that he perpetually dreamed of escaping it. He spent his young years studying maps, trying to decipher which body of water he could swim across to escape the communist paradise he languished in. But his life ended up going a different way: he confronted the slave masters, rather than escaping the prison they had built.

My father was a scholar at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and a professor at Moscow State University. His main field of study concerned Oriental languages and cultures, with a specialty in the Chinese, Sanskrit and Tamil areas. Despite his rewarding career, my dad put everything on the line and began to attend human rights demonstrations in Moscow on behalf of political prisoners. He also started to sign letters of protest against the political repressions that were heightening in the country in the 1960s, connected as they were to the re-Stalinization of the Soviet Union after the Khrushchev thaw. The activities my dad engaged in could land a Soviet citizen in the gulag or a psychiatric hospital for decades.

On February 24, 1968, my father signed the Letter of Twelve, a letter written and signed by twelve Soviet dissidents to the Supreme Congress of Communist Parties in Budapest denouncing Soviet human rights abuses. He was immediately fired from his work for being “unprofessional” in his scholarly studies (even though he previously had received high praise for his academic studies).

The picture of my dad, shown above, was taken by a friend who had come to visit him the evening of the day he was expelled from the Academy. My father had been at a meeting at the closed section of the Supreme Soviet of Scholars. Before the committee announced his expulsion, he had delivered a strong speech about political repressions in the country and finished by talking about his hope that the days of freedom would one day come to his beloved Russia.

After his expulsion, my father received a labor card with a special secret code that meant that he was blacklisted and could not receive employment anywhere in the country. He even tried to get a job cleaning streets, but was refused once an employer saw the poisoned markings. In a Soviet Catch-22, because of his “unemployment,” the KGB began to persecute my father for “parasitism” — a law in the Soviet Union that criminalized unemployed people and subsequently shipped them off to labor camps in Siberia.

Under these circumstances, my dad’s health broke down. He became very sick, came down with sepsis (blood poisoning) and was hospitalized. The Communist Party was as cold and unforgiving as the Siberian winter, and the KGB sharks waited for him to either die or to arrive home from his sickbed, upon which they would continue their persecution of him. Because of very brave friends like Dr. Anna Marshak who provided Western medication to my father, he survived. His sickness and several other developments threw the unfolding narrative down a different path.

During this time, a friend of our family’s told my dad that, under vicious harassment by the KGB (they had discovered an affair she was having and threatened to tell her husband), she had agreed to be a witness for them in a trial against my father that would charge (and convict) him of selling foreign currency and drugs on the black market (which she would place in our apartment). Upon hearing this, my dad knew the KGB was going for the jugular and that he only had one hand left to play. He immediately sent a letter to the Department for Exit Visas in which he said: give me a job or let me out of the country. Shortly afterwards, in April 1972, before Nixon’s visit to Moscow — and perhaps because of that visit — my father received the Exit Visa to emigrate from the Soviet Union. In escaping the Soviet hell, he was able to bring his family (my mom, my sister Elena, my brother Grisha and me) to the West.

[My family, after my father was expelled from the Academy. My mom is on the left and my older sister, Elena, is on the right. I’m the youngest, with my older brother Grisha behind me.]

My father never stopped fighting the Soviet system and the murderous, anti-human ideology that spawned it. He never fell into silence about the genocide and monstrous oppression communism engendered everywhere it set foot. He was always outspoken on behalf of political prisoners that languished in communist gulags around the world. I grew up in this spirit that my dad (and mom) nurtured in our family, and my heart and mind, from a young age, were preoccupied with the fate and sufferings of heroes like Russia’s Vladimir Bukovsky and Cuba’s Armando Valladares.

I am eternally grateful to my father, and to my mother, for having instilled in me one of the highest values in life, which we find in Hebrews 13:3: Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. And that is precisely that value that explains why I am at Frontpage Magazine today, fighting on the front lines alongside a noble warrior like David Horowitz on behalf of freedom fighters everywhere, and in particular the Christians, Jews, Muslim women and dissidents, and all other minorities and peoples, who are being viciously persecuted under Islamist tyranny.

When my dad arrived in the U.S. via Italy, he first taught at New York University and then at Boston College as Professor of Russian Studies. He then moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the Department of Russian Studies at Dalhousie University. He loved to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky and the history of Russian ideas.

[My mom and dad in Italy in 1972 when we first left the Soviet Union.]

In 1992, the Soviet Academy of Sciences apologized to my father for persecuting him earlier, and now invited him to re-establish scholarly contacts. In the mid-1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, my father received a document from the Sakharov Archives located in Boston. Dated February 19, 1971, it was a top secret letter written by Yuri Andropov, leader of the KGB at the time, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Filled with obscene lies and clear self-induced lies, it accused my dad of terrorism and espionage, indicating the kind of trial the KGB was preparing for my dad in those horrifying years. This document proves how much the KGB hated dissidents and spread the most vicious lies about them (being CIA agents etc.).

Bugging the regular conversations of my father with Sakharov, mostly in Sakharov’s apartment, the KGB deliberately distorted the discussions, parts of which dealt with the history of terrorism in Russia. The so-called “espionage” of my father was based on his correspondence with international scholars in his field, which my father dared to conduct in those dangerous years. Naturally, his letters were perlustrated and listed in the KGB files.

My father published numerous books and articles in both Russian and English. The two books that became best known were, The Russian Mind Since Stalin’s Death and To Be or Not to Be in the Party: Communist Party Membership in the USSR.

My dad died of cancer on March 15, 1998. It was before the Vladimir Putin period, but my father already gauged, with great disappointment, what was happening in his beloved homeland. He understood the disaster and tragedy concerning the future moral health of his country when Nuremberg-style trials did not follow the collapse of the Soviet Union. The crimes and atrocities of Soviet communism – and the ideology that engendered the mass murder of 60 million people – were all supposed to be revealed and condemned. The secret KGB archives were supposed to be opened. The exposure and judgment of high ranking KGB officers and communist officials were supposed to take place in front of the whole world. Instead, these criminals and mafia figures remained in power — just in new clothing and using new language.

New school textbooks were supposed to be introduced – like those in post-war Germany that dealt honestly with the crimes of the Nazi era. It is impossible to imagine Hitler being praised in today’s German school texts or his glorified portrait being hung high in the streets of Germany. But in Russia, the mirror image of that horror happened and still continues today.

So, today, with Putin and his KGB thugs and murderers still in power, we witnessed, a few years back, the preparation for the 65th anniversary celebration of the Soviet victory in WWII marked with portraits of Joseph Stalin as the country’s victorious war-time leader. This is no surprise, of course, since Putin has overseen a strong pining for Stalin in Russia, which manifested itself in a beverage plant in Volgograd releasing a series of soft drinks picturing the dictator on its labels and in the introduction of new textbooks in schools speaking of the mass murderer as, among other things, an “effective manager.”

What would my father have thought of all of these developments if he were alive today? So many dissidents sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom in the Soviet Union. For what? Russia was given the window of opportunity to choose freedom in the early 1990s, but it chose to turn its back on this historic opportunity. My father shared the same fate as many of his friends and other dissidents: if you avoided being murdered, you passed away early from cancer or other illnesses. One can only imagine what terrible stress these freedom fighters endured for the sake of bringing liberty to their nation. Was it all in vain?

I don’t think it was. What my father and the other courageous warriors did was meaningful in its own right. Moreover, the struggle my father’s life valiantly represented lives on. Today, each of us can help keep the flame for freedom alive and to help the people fighting for justice and liberty, whether they are in Russia standing up against Putin or throughout the world standing up against Islamic Jihad and Sharia.

I have dedicated my life to carrying the torch for my dad and to do all in my power to help carry on his battle for freedom. My web-tv show, The Glazov Gang is a large part of my personal effort to continue my father’s effort to help shine a light into the darkness that tyranny needs to perpetrate its evil. The television program needs funding for production costs, since it is a fan-generated show, and so any help that my supporters and friends can offer (and even a little bit counts) is very appreciated. You can give your support at JamieGlazov.com and through this link to help us keep going. Thank you.

I am eternally grateful to all of you who stand beside my family, my fellow warriors and me, and to all of you who have taken the time to listen to my story about my dad. Let us pray that his battle — and the battle of so many freedom fighters and martyrs who rose and fell fighting Soviet communism and totalitarianism — will not be forgotten.

To learn more about Yuri Glazov, watch Jamie discuss his family background in Ann-Marie Murrell’s interview with him and in a special 2-part series with Josh Brewster: Part I and Part II.

The Glazov Gang
is a fan-generated program and its life extension is growing short. Please donate through our Pay Pal account to help us keep going. We so appreciate it.

8 thoughts on “Remembering a Dissident”

  1. Wow, it was chilling to read about your father being fired from his university job simply for speaking out on behalf of freedom, and holding differing views than the establishment. That’s exactly what we are seeing happen in the U.S. today. And it seems to be growing more so by the day.

    This was a lovely tribute. You resemble him so much, both in face and in heart. If they could see your work today, I know both of your parents would immensely proud.

  2. I can see why you are proud of your father and what he stood for Your father sounds like just the kind of person who would pass along his amazing character to his son. So now I must add your father’s name (yours was already there) to my too-short list of things we have on our side. “We” meaning people with common sense who want desperately to try to reverse the wrong direction the U.S. and the world is going in because it will lead to more heartbreak and suffering than is already the case. Thank you for sharing your father with us who follow you.

  3. An impressive account of a truly outstanding man. I stand in awe of the courage and dedication to truth on the part of Dr. Yuri Glazof and so many other Soviet dissidents.

    I first heard of Yuri Glazov when an article about him appeared in Science magazine, about the time when a letter he wrote was published in (I vaguely recall) the New York Times. Today’s Gray Lady, when it bothers to report about oppression of non-Moslems oppressed and slaughtered in the name of Islam, strips away all context. It is, don’t you know, all a matter of “sectarian strife” or acts of random terror that come out of nowhere. Mainstream media, such as the NYT, seek not to educate about hard matters- it would prefer to hide in the tall grass.

    The forces of oppression, endemic in human history and particularly virulent today in the Moslem world (in accord with Islamic doctrine) are a serious threat to all that I cherish. I am grateful that Jamie is taking a leadership role in the titanic battle of our time, and he deserves the support of all those who cherish liberty and the individual human mind.

  4. Loved learning about your family history. I find you and your show so empowering and educational. Obviously you are strongly guided by the simple principle of: what it right. Now I know where you learned your principles, and what inspires you to be as brave as you are to speak for justice and human compassion in the world.

    Thanks so much for posting! (Love the family photo too!)

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