Valeriya Novodvorskaya

Last updated

Valeriya Novodvorskaya
Valeriya Novodvorskaya3.jpg
1st Chairman of the Democratic Union
In office
8 May 1988 12 July 2014
Preceded byPosition created
Personal details
Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya

(1950-05-17)17 May 1950
Baranovichi, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union
Died12 July 2014(2014-07-12) (aged 64)
Moscow, Russia
Cause of death Toxic shock syndrome
Political party Democratic Union
Alma mater Moscow Region State University

Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya (Russian : Вале́рия Ильи́нична Новодво́рская, 17 May 1950, Baranovichi, Byelorussian SSR – 12 July 2014, Moscow) was a Soviet dissident, writer and liberal politician. [1] She was the founder and the chairwoman of the "Democratic Union" party and a member of the editorial board of The New Times . [2]

Russian language East Slavic language

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.

Moscow Capital city of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

Democratic Union is a Soviet and Russian liberal party founded on 8 May, 1988 by Valeriya Novodvorskaya and Yevgeniya Debryanskaya. The party has become known after a series of unsanctioned demonstrations organized and consistently taking place from 1988 to 1991 in Moscow and Leningrad, with the protesters getting arrested. The party charter specifies the main goals of the organization as follows:



Novodvorskaya was born in 1950 to a Jewish engineer, Ilya Borisovich (Boruchovich) Burshtyn, and a pediatrician, Nina Feodorovna Novodvorskaya, who came from a noble Russian family. [3] Her parents divorced in 1967; Ilya Borisovich later emigrated to North America.

Russian nobility privileged social class in the Russian Empire

The Russian nobility originated in the 14th century. In 1914 it consisted of approximately 1,900,000 members.

Novodvorskaya was active in the Soviet dissident movement since her youth, and first imprisoned by the Soviet authorities in 1969, when she was 19, for distributing leaflets that criticized the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The leaflets included her poetry: "Thank you, the Communist Party for our bitterness and despair, for our shameful silence, thank you the Party!" [4] She was arrested and imprisoned at a Soviet psychiatric hospital and, like many other Soviet dissidents, diagnosed with "sluggish schizophrenia". [5] In the early 1990s, psychiatrists of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia proved that the claim of her mental illness was bogus. [6] [7] She described her experience in her book Beyond Despair.

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic republic in Central/Eastern Europe between 1960 and 1990

The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was the name of Czechoslovakia from 1948 until 23 April 1990, when the country was under communist rule. Formally known as the Fourth Czechoslovak Republic, it has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Psikhushka is a Russian ironic diminutive for psychiatric hospital. In Russia, the word entered everyday vocabulary. This word has been occasionally used in English, since the Soviet dissident movement and diaspora community the West used the term. In the Soviet Union, psychiatric hospitals were often used by the authorities as prisons, in order to isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally. As such, psikhushkas were considered a form of torture. The official explanation was that no sane person would be against socialism.

Sluggish schizophrenia or slow progressive schizophrenia was a diagnostic category used in the Soviet Union to describe what they claimed was a form of schizophrenia characterized by a slowly progressive course; it was diagnosed even in a patient who showed no symptoms of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, on the assumption that these symptoms would appear later. It was developed in the 1960s by Soviet psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky and his colleagues, and was used exclusively in the USSR and several Eastern Bloc countries, until the fall of Communism starting in 1989. The diagnosis has long been discredited because of its scientific inadequacy and its use as a means of confining dissenters. It has never been used or recognized outside of Soviet Union, or by international organizations such as the World Health Organization. It is considered a prime example of the political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union.

Novodvorskaya stood as a Democratic Union candidate in the 1993 Russian legislative election in a single-mandate district as part of the Russia's Choice bloc, and she also contested the 1995 Russian legislative election on the list of the Party of Economic Freedom. She was not elected in either election, and never held public office. [8]

The Democratic Choice of Russia was a Russian centre-right conservative-liberal political party. From 1993 — 1994 it was called "The Choice of Russia". Later the party was self-disbanded and most members would merge into the Union of Right Forces.

Novodvorskaya self-identified primarily as a liberal politician and was described by her colleagues as "a critic of Russian realities in the best traditions of Pyotr Chaadayev, Vissarion Belinsky and Alexander Herzen". [9] [10] [11] She was strongly critical of Chechen Wars, Vladimir Putin's domestic policies, and the rebirth of Soviet propaganda in Russia. [12] [13] [14] She also accused the Russian government of murdering Polish president Lech Kaczyński in a plane crash on 10 April 2010 in Smolensk Oblast. [15]

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.

Pyotr Chaadayev Russian philosopher

Pyotr or Petr Yakovlevich Chaadayev was a Russian philosopher. He was one of the Russian Schellingians.

Vissarion Belinsky Russian literary critic

Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky was a Russian literary critic of Westernizing tendency. Belinsky played one of the key roles in the career of poet and publisher Nikolay Nekrasov and his popular magazine Sovremennik.

In 2009 Novodvorskaya published an autobiographical book, Farewell of Slavianka: A Thriller, that includes all her articles from Novy Vzglad, the details of her case, fragments of speech her lawyer Henri Reznik gave in 1996 and her last word in court. [16] The case lasted for two years and was apparently closed.

Henri Reznik Russian lawyer

Henri Markovich Reznik is a prominent Russian lawyer, former criminal investigator and criminologist. He chaired the presidium of the Moscow City Bar Association.

Personal life

Throughout her life, Novodvorskaya lived in a flat with her mother Nina Fyodorovna (Нина Федоровна Новодворская, 1928–2017), a pediatrician, and cat Stasik. [17] In the summers they rented a dacha in Kratovo. [18] [19] She was fond of swimming, science fiction, theater and cats. [19]

Appearance by V.I. Novodvorskaya at the rally on 9 October 2010

In 1990 Novodvorskaya was baptized by the noncanonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Reunited. She belonged to that church till her death while remaining highly critical of the Russian Orthodox Church. [20] According to her priest Yakov Krotov, "she was more of a Christian than I ever was". [21]


On 12 July 2014, Novodvorskaya died of toxic shock syndrome, which arose from phlegmon of the left foot. [22]


Novodvorskaya received the Starovoytova award "for contribution to the defense of human rights and strengthening democracy in Russia". She said at the ceremony that "we are not in opposition to, but in confrontation with, the present regime". [23]


Novodvorskaya published several books that are supplemented with the publications from Novy Vzglyad newspaper: [24] ( ISBN   978-5-8159-0893-2)

Related Research Articles

Tamara Sinyavskaya singer

Tamara Ilyinichna Sinyavskaya is a Russian mezzo-soprano from the Bolshoi Theatre.

Anna Ulyanova Russian revolutionary

Anna Ilyinichna Yelizarova-Ulyanova was a Russian revolutionary and a Soviet stateswoman. The older sister of Vladimir Lenin and of Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova, she married Mark Timofeyevich Yelizarov (1863-1919), who became Soviet Russia's first People's Commissar for Transport.

Natalya Georgievna Medvedeva was a Russian poet, writer, singer, and member of Tribunal rock band.

Lyudmila Ilyinichna Maslakova is a Soviet athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres.

Boris Stomakhin Russian writer

Boris Vladimirovich Stomakhin is a Russian radical political activist, and editor of "Radical politics" periodical. He was convicted three times for hate speech, advocating a dismemberment of Russian Federation and genocide against Russian people. The convictions have been questioned by human rights organizations ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

The Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry is a psychiatric hospital and Russia's main center of forensic psychiatry. In the past, the institution was called the Serbsky Institute. The institution garnered negative publicity because many Soviet dissidents were examined there and then sent to psychiatric hospitals.

Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin is a Russian medieval historian, orthodox theologian and anti-cult activist.

Irina Toneva Russian musician

Irina Ilyinichna Toneva is a Russian singer, one of three vocalists of girl group Fabrika. In 2002 she took part in first Star Factory project where Fabrika was formed and finished second.

Valeriya Russian singer

Valeriya is a stage name of Alla Yurievna Perfilova, a Russian singer and fashion model, Valeriya, who is a recipient of the titles People's Artist of Russia (2013) and People's Artist of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (2016), has also won numerous prestigious awards, including Golden Gramophone (thirteen), Pesnya goda (thirteen), Muz-TV, and MTV Russia Music Awards. She has been a member of the Council for Culture and Art under the President of the Russian Federation since 2012.

<i>Novy Vzglyad</i> private Russian newspaper

Novy Vzglyad is a weekly newspaper published in Moscow, Russia. It used to be well known for its commentaries on politics and social issues in the 1990s.

Valeriya Gai Germanika Russian film director

Valeriya Gai Alexandrovna Germanika is a Russian film director dedicated to the topics of coming-of-age. She was awarded multiple awards for the feature film Everybody Dies But Me.

Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia organization

The Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia (IPA) is the sole Russian non-governmental professional organization that makes non-forensic psychiatric expert examination at the request of citizens whose rights have been violated with the use of psychiatry. The IPA is not a state institution but a public organization, and its medical reports have not a legal but an ethical significance. There is nowhere to refute one's misdiagnosis in Russia. In recent years, the IPA forces restrictions on patients’ rights and transinstitutionalization of the mentally ill.

Yuri Sergeevich Savenko is a Russian psychiatrist, the president since 1989 of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia. He is also a member of the Council of Experts of the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation. He holds M.D. qualification and is editor-in-chief of and a regular contributor to the Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal, which has been published since 1991. He had been working as editorial consultant of the Moskovskiy Psikhoterapevticheskiy Zhurnal for many years before he left this position in 2008.

Political abuse of psychiatry is the purported misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society. In other words, abuse of psychiatry including one for political purposes is deliberate action of getting citizens certified, who, because of their mental condition, need neither psychiatric restraint nor psychiatric treatment. Psychiatrists have been involved in human rights abuses in states across the world when the definitions of mental disease were expanded to include political disobedience. As scholars have long argued, governmental and medical institutions code menaces to authority as mental diseases during political disturbances. Nowadays, in many countries, political prisoners are sometimes confined and abused in mental institutions. Psychiatric confinement of sane people is uniformly considered a particularly pernicious form of repression.

Mental health in Russia

Mental health in Russia is covered by a law, known under its official name—the Law of the Russian Federation "On Psychiatric Care and Guarantees of Citizens' Rights during Its Provision", which is the basic legal act that regulates psychiatric care in the Russian Federation and applies not only to persons with mental disorders but all citizens. A notable exception of this rule is those vested with parliamentary or judicial immunity. Providing psychiatric care is regulated by a special law regarding guarantees of citizens' rights.

Valeriya Zaklunna Soviet and Ukrainian actress

Valeriya Gavriilovna Zaklunna-Myronenko was a Soviet and Ukrainian actress and politician. A member of the Communist Party of Ukraine, she was a co-winner, with other members of the cast of the film To The Last Minute, of the 1975 Shevchenko National Prize.

Vera Ilyinichna Matveyeva was a Russian poet and singer-songwriter.

Nina Dorda

Nina Ilyinichna Dorda was a Soviet pop and soprano singer, a Honored Artist of Russia.

Konstantin Borovoi Russian politician and human rights activist

Konstantin Natanovich Borovoi, is a liberal Russian politician and entrepreneur, Russian Parliament Member (1995-2000), former Chair of Party of Economic Freedom (1992-2003), and Chair of Party Western Choice.

Valeriya Gnarovskaya Heroine of the Soviet Union, suicide attacked a tank to save a hospital from being destroyed

Valeriya Osipovna Gnarovskaya was a senior medical non-commissioned officer in the 907th Rifle Regiment who fought on the Stalingrad Front in World War II. On 23 September 1943, when a German tank broke through the Soviet line of defence where she was treating wounded soldiers, she threw herself under the tank with a bag of grenades, killing herself but repulsing the German counterattack. She was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 3 June 1944.


  1. Lukin, Alexander. The Political Culture of the Russian "Democrats". New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN   0-19-829558-8, ISBN   978-0-19-829558-7. P. 260n.
  2. (also mentioned, Gleb Yakunin and Konstantin Borovoi) Arbatov, Alexei. Military Reform in Russia,International Security, Vol. 22, No. 4
  3. Rachel Gedrich. Exclusive interview with Ilya Borisovich Burshtyn who talks about his legendary Lera for the first time . Krugozor magazine (Boston). May 15, 2015 (in Russian)
  4. Barron, John (1975). KGB - The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents. London: Corgi Books. ISBN   0-552-09890-6. p. 55 in Russian edition ( ISBN   0-911971-29-7)
  5. Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya –
  6. Савенко, Юрий (2009). 20-летие НПА России. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 1): 5–18. ISSN   1028-8554 . Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  7. Савенко, Юрий (2007). Дело Андрея Новикова. Психиатрию в политических целях использует власть, а не психиатры: Интервью Ю.С. Савенко корреспонденту "Новой газеты" Галине Мурсалиевой. Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (in Russian) (№ 4): 88–91. ISSN   1028-8554 . Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  8. Millar, James R. (2004). Encyclopedia of Russian History. Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 372–373. ISBN   0-02-865907-4. OCLC   62165740.
  9. Anna Badkhen. DEMOCRACY ON THE BRINK: Dissent / Russia back on track to absolute rule / Democracy activists again out in the cold . San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2004
  10. Robert Coalson. Valeria Novodvorskaya: Russia's 'Don Quixote' Of Democracy, Human Rights at Radio Liberty, June 03, 2016
  11. Nikolai Svanidze, Vladimir Ryzhkov. In The Memory of Valeria Novodvorskaya . Echo of Moscow, July 12, 2014 (in Russian)
  12. Газета «Новый взгляд» N46 от 28 августа 1993г.. Democratic Union website
  13. Комсомольская правда (9.2.2007)
  14. Валерия Новодворская на радио "Эхо Москвы" 29 августа 2008 г., radio interview, August 29, 2008, on "Moscow Echo" (Ekho Moskvy)
  15. Novodvorskaya, Valeria (11 April 2010). Жестокая посадка (in Russian). Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  16. Valeria Novodvorskaya (2009). Farewell of Slavianka. A Thriller. Moscow: Zakharov Books, 464 pages. ISBN   978-5-8159-0893-2
  17. Известная девственница снялась для Playboy, "Утро", 9 November 2005.
  18. Валерия Новодворская – между весталкой и гейшей Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. 1 2 Новодворская Валерия Ильинична Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Novodvorskaya's Interdict on Echo of Moscow, October 4, 2012 (in Russian)
  21. Vladimir Oyvin. YAKOV KROTOV: Of all members of our parish Novodvorskaya was the most comfortable one . - Portal of religious news, 2014 (in Russian)
  22. "Правозащитница Валерия Новодворская умерла в Москве". 12 July 2014.
  23. Anna Politkovskaya (2007) A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia , Random House, ISBN   978-1-4000-6682-7, page 38.
  24. "Farewell of the Slav. Thriller: collection". Retrieved 13 July 2014.