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The Dissidents: Presenting Peter Reddaway's New Book

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recording of the discussion is available to the public. Please note that you may need to adjust your audio settings to hear all of the participants.

About the event

In the last decades before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, courageous dissidents within the country worked tirelessly to expose the tyranny and weakness of the Soviet state. Today these men and women are largely forgotten, both in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. The Dissidents brings them and their work to life for contemporary readers.

Peter Reddaway spent decades studying the Soviet Union and came to know these dissidents and their work, publicizing their writings in the West and helping some of them to escape the Soviet Union and settle abroad. In this memoir he tells their stories and also captures the human costs of the repression that marked the Soviet state: the forced labor camps, the internal exile, the censorship, the use and abuse of psychiatry to label those who found fault with the Soviet system mentally ill. Reddaway’s book also places the work of the dissidents within the context of the secretive politics inside the Kremlin, where a tiny elite competed for power—even as the Soviet system was crumbling around them.

The GRC hosted a panel discussion of of the book on January 23, 2020. Panelists included: Peter Reddaway is a professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. He taught at the London School of Economics and directed the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies. He is author of numerous books on Soviet and Russian affairs, including Russia’s Domestic Security Wars: Putin’s Use of Divide and Rule Against His Hardline Allies (2018); Russia’s Political Hospitals: The Abuse of Psychiatry in the Soviet Union, with Sidney Bloch (1977); and Uncensored Russia: The Human Rights Movement in the Soviet Union (1972). Harley Balzer is emeritus faculty at Georgetown University. Donald Jensen is Editor in Chief and Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Thane Gustafson is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. Robert Otto is Senior Analyst for Russian Affairs at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. State Department. Mark Yoffe is an International Information Specialist and Research Librarian at GW. Robert Orttung is Research Professor of International Affairs.