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In the Russian language the word Glasnost ( // ; Russian : гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (
Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.
In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.
The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
"For centuries", human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva has explained, the word glasnost has been in the Russian language: "It was in the dictionaries and lawbooks as long as there had been dictionaries and lawbooks. It was an ordinary, hardworking, non-descript word that was used to refer to a process, any process of justice or governance, being conducted in the open."In the mid-1960s, however, as Alexeyeva recounts, it acquired a new and topical importance.
Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being" and which are "inherent in all human beings", regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin, or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. They are regarded as requiring empathy and the rule of law and imposing an obligation on persons to respect the human rights of others, and it is generally considered that they should not be taken away except as a result of due process based on specific circumstances; for example, human rights may include freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution.
Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva was a Russian historian and human rights activist who was a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in modern Russia.
On 5 December 1965, a key event in the emergence of the Soviet civil rights movement, often known as the Glasnost rally, took place in Moscow when protesters on Pushkin Square led by Alexander Yesenin-Volpin demanded access to the closed trial of Yuly Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky. They specifically asked for "glasnost", i.e. the admission of the public, independent observers and foreign journalists, to the trial, something that was required in the newly issued, but not widely available, Code of Criminal Procedure. With a few specified exceptions, Article 111 of the Code stated that judicial hearings in the USSR should be held in public.
Yuli Markovich Daniel was a Soviet dissident writer, poet, translator, and political prisoner. He frequently wrote under the pseudonyms Nikolay Arzhak and Yu. Petrov.
Andrei Donatovich Sinyavsky was a Russian writer, dissident, political prisoner, emigrant, Professor of Sorbonne University, magazine founder and publisher. He frequently wrote under the pseudonym Абрам Терц.
Such protests against closed trials continued throughout the post-Stalin era. Andrei Sakharov, famously, did not travel to Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize because he was standing outside a court building in Vilnius (Lithuania), demanding access to the 1976 trial of Sergei Kovalev, an editor of the Chronicle of Current Events and prominent rights activist.
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a Russian nuclear physicist, dissident, Nobel laureate, and activist for disarmament, peace and human rights.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".
Sergei Adamovich Kovalyov is a Russian human rights activist and politician and a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner.
In 1986, aware of the term's historical and more recent resonance, Mikhail Gorbachev and his advisers adopted "glasnost" as a political slogan, together with the obscure "perestroika".
Perestroika was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s and is widely associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.
Glasnost was taken to mean increased openness and transparency in government institutions and activities in the Soviet Union (USSR).Glasnost apparently reflected a commitment to getting Soviet citizens to discuss publicly the problems of their system and seek solutions. Gorbachev encouraged popular scrutiny and criticism of leaders, as well as a certain level of exposure by the mass media. Some critics, especially among legal reformers and dissidents, regarded the Soviet authorities' new slogans as vague and limited alternatives to more basic liberties.
Alexei Simonov, president of the Glasnost Defence Foundation, would define the term as follows: "Glasnost is a tortoise crawling towards Freedom of Speech".
Between 1986 and 1991, during an era of reforms in the USSR, glasnost was frequently linked with other generalised concepts such as perestroika (literally: restructuring or regrouping) and demokratizatsiya (democratisation). Gorbachev often appealed to glasnost when promoting policies aimed at reducing corruption at the top of the Communist Party and the Soviet government, and moderating the abuse of administrative power in the Central Committee.
The ambiguity of "glasnost" defines the distinctive five-year period (1986–1991) at the end of the USSR's existence. There was decreasing pre-publication and pre-broadcast censorship and greater freedom of information.
The "Era of Glasnost" saw greater contact between Soviet citizens and the Western world, particularly the United States: restrictions on travel were loosened for many, allowing increased business and cultural interchange.
Gorbachev's interpretation of "glasnost" can best be summarized, translated, and explained in English as "openness". While associated with freedom of speech, the main goal of this policy was to make the country's management transparent, and circumvent the narrow circle of bureaucrats who previously exercised complete control of the economy.
Soviet history under Stalin was re-examined; censored literature in the libraries was made more widely available;and there was a greater freedom of speech for citizens and openness in the media.
Propaganda about the supposedly higher quality of consumer goods and quality of life in the United States and Western Europe began to be transmitted to the Soviet population,along with western popular culture.
The outright prohibition of censorship was enshrined in Article 29 of the new 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation.This did not end attempts by officials to restrict access to information in post-Soviet Russia or pressure by the authorities on media outlets not to publicise or discuss certain events or subjects. Monitoring of the infringement of media rights in the years from 2004 to 2013 would find that instances of censorship were the most commonly reported type of violation.
There were also periodic concerns about the extent of glasnost in court proceedings, as restrictions were placed on access to certain cases for the media and for the public.[ citation needed ]
All this degradation and hypocrisy is laid not just at the feet of Stalin but of Lenin and the Revolution that made his rule possible.
...market forces had taken over publishing...
The history of the Soviet Union from 1982 through 1991 spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev's death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, economic growth stagnated. Failed attempts at reform, a standstill economy, and the success of the United States against the Soviet Union's forces in the war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.
Samizdat was a form of dissident activity across the Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader. This grassroots practice to evade official Soviet censorship was fraught with danger, as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky summarized it as follows: "Samizdat: I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself."
Yegor Kuzmich Ligachyov is a Soviet politician who was a high-ranking official in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Originally an ally of Mikhail Gorbachev, Ligachyov became a challenger to his leadership.
Demokratizatsiya was a slogan introduced by Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1987 calling for the infusion of "democratic" elements into the Soviet Union's single-party government. Gorbachev's Demokratizatsiya meant the introduction of multi-candidate—though not multiparty—elections for local Communist Party (CPSU) officials and Soviets. In this way, he hoped to rejuvenate the party with progressive personnel who would carry out his institutional and policy reforms. The CPSU would retain sole custody of the ballot box.
Uskoreniye was a slogan and a policy announced by Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 20 April 1985 at a Soviet Party Plenum, aimed at the acceleration of political, social and economic development of the Soviet Union. It was the first slogan of a set of reforms that also included perestroika (restructuring), glasnost (transparency), new political thinking, and demokratizatsiya (democratization).
The Law on Cooperatives was a major economic reform implemented in the Soviet Union during General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost reforms. It was implemented in May 1988, allowed for independent worker-owned cooperatives to operate in the Soviet Union, as opposed to just state-owned enterprises, and gave guidelines as to how these cooperatives should be managed. While originally the law imposed high taxes and restrictions on employment, it was eventually revised so as not to discourage activity within the private sector.
Pavel Mikhailovich Litvinov is a Russian physicist, writer, human rights activist and former Soviet-era dissident.
After the establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Cuba became increasingly dependent on Soviet markets and military aid, becoming an ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1972 Cuba joined the COMECON, an economic organization of states designed to create cooperation among the communist planned economies dominated by the large economy of the Soviet Union. Moscow kept in regular contact with Havana, sharing varying close relations until the collapse of the bloc in 1991. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba entered an era of economic hardship known as the Special Period in Time of Peace.
Vitaly Korotich is a Soviet, Ukrainian and Russian writer and journalist. Born in 1936 in Kiev, he graduated from the Kiev Medical University in 1959 and worked as a doctor between 1959 and 1966. Later, he became a full-time writer, and served as an officer of the Union of Soviet Writers.
Author and publisher Valery Nikolaevich Chalidze was a Soviet dissident and human rights activist, deprived of his USSR citizenship in 1972 while on a visit to the US.
My Best Friend, General Vasili, the Son of Joseph Stalin is a 1991 film, directed by Viktor Sadovsky and starring Boris Schcherbakov and Vladimir Steklov.
In 1989, elections were held for the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union. The main elections were held on 26 March and a second round on 9 April. They were the first relatively free nationwide elections held in the Soviet Union, and would prove to be the final national elections held as the country ceased to exist in 1991. The elections were followed by regional elections in 1990, the last legislative elections to take place in the country.
The Glasnost Meeting was the first spontaneous public political demonstration in the Soviet Union after the Second World War. It took place in Moscow on 5 December 1965 as a response to the trial of writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. The demonstration is considered to mark the beginning of a movement for civil rights in the Soviet Union.
Stamps of the Soviet Union were issued in the period 1923 to 1991. They were labeled with the inscription Russian: "Почта СССР". In the thematics, Soviet stamps reflected to a large extent the history, politics, economics and culture of this world's first socialist state.
The Initiative or Action Group for the Defense of Human Rights in the USSR was the first civic organization of the Soviet human rights movement. Founded in 1969 by 15 dissidents, the unsanctioned group functioned for over six years as a public platform for Soviet dissidents concerned with violations of human rights in the Soviet Union.
In the 1960s a human rights movement began to emerge in the USSR. Those actively involved did not share a single set of beliefs. Many wanted a variety of civil rights — freedom of expression, of religious belief, of national self-determination. To some it was crucial to provide a truthful record of what was happening in the country, not the heavily censored version provided in official media outlets. Others still were "reform Communists" who thought it possible to change the Soviet system for the better.
Sergei Ivanovich Grigoryants is a Soviet dissident and former political prisoner, journalist, literary critic, chairman of the Glasnost Defense Foundation. He was imprisoned for 10 years in Chistopol jail as a political prisoner for anti-Soviet activities, from 1975 to 1980 and then four more years starting in 1983 on similar charges.
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