Kaminskaya, Dina 1920-2006

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Kaminskaya, Dina 1920-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born January 13, 1920, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine; died of complications from a stroke, July 7, 2006, in Falls Church, VA. Lawyer and author. Kaminskaya was a defense attorney in the Soviet Union who was forced to emigrate in 1977 because of her work defending dissidents. Although her family was Jewish in a largely anti-Semitic country, they managed to become Communist Party members and her father held an important position as director of the Industrial Bank. The young Kaminskaya was brought up to be a good Soviet citizen, and she attended Moscow University for her law degree. Attorneys at the time were routinely pressured to become prosecutors for the repressive Soviet court system, but Kaminskaya wished to be a defender. She began with citizens who were falsely accused of various crimes, including murder. Despite the fact that Soviet judges favored prosecutors, often not even allowing attorneys to defend their clients properly, she managed to get over one hundred accused people acquitted and often had other sentences reduced. Her ability to successfully defend her clients while working within the restrictive court system inspired Kaminskaya to go even further and handle cases involving Soviet dissidents. Many of her clients endured years of imprisonment, or time in forced labor camps or mental hospitals, before she was able to work with them. Among her clients were such dissidents as Yuri Galanskov, Anatoli Marchenko, Pavel Litvinov, and Vladimir Bukovsky. It was her decision to defend Anatoly Shcharansky that resulted in her becoming an expatriate. By the 1970s, Kaminskaya was already under suspicion for her and her family's views. Her son had fled the country and her husband was the author of a manuscript titled USSR: The Corrupt Society. With her final case, she was told to leave the Soviet Union in 1977. She and her husband moved to Arlington, Virginia, and then settled in Falls Church. Here, she worked as a commentator for the Voice of America and wrote articles and books, including her memoir, Final Judgment: My Life As a Soviet Defense Attorney (1983). She was also the author of Zapiski Advokata (1984).



Kaminskaya, Dina, Final Judgment: My Life As a Soviet Defense Attorney, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1983.


Washington Post, July 15, 2006, p. B6.