On November 29, Natalia Gorbanevskaya—poet, translator, human rights activist and participant of the 1968 Red Square demonstration—died in Paris. She died in her sleep. She was 77.



Natalia Gorbanevskaya, a philologist, poet and translator, was one of the co-founders of the human rights movement in the USSR and the first editor of the Chronicle of Current Events, a samizdat news publication. On August 25, 1968, she participated in a demonstration on Moscow’s Red Square to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Between 1970 and 1972 she was subjected to forced psychiatric “treatment” by the Soviet authorities.

Since 1975 she has lived in France, working at Kontinent magazine, Radio Liberty, La Pensée russe newspaper, and New Poland journal. She remained active in the human rights movement, frequently visited Moscow, and has served on the independent public commission of inquiry into the May 6, 2012 events on Bolotnaya Square.

Natalia Gorbanevskaya was one of the participants of They Chose Freedom, a documentary on dissent in the Soviet Union that was translated into English by the Institute of Modern Russia.

“Natalia Gorbanevskaya was one of those people who serve as a moral guide for society,” said IMR Senior Policy Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza. “And even though she did not consider her activities in defense of human rights to be heroic (she often said that her participation in the 1968 demonstration was a ‘selfish’ move—she ‘wanted to have a clean conscience’) people like Natalia Gorbanevskaya defended the honor of the country and of society, openly challenging lies and injustice while the majority remained silent. Such righteous people save the city.”

The Institute of Modern Russia expresses deepest condolences to Natalia Gorbanevskaya’s family and friends, and to the human rights community at large.