Grigorenko, Peter Grigorievich

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(19071987), leading Soviet human rights activist.

Born in Ukraine, Peter Grigorenko was a decorated war hero during World War II. He rose to the rank of Major General in 1959. In 1964 Grigorenko was arrested for participation in the Society for the Restoration of Leninist Principles, which warned of the reemergence of a Stalinist cult of personality. For fifteen months he was in psychiatric hospitals and prisons before being released in 1965. Stripped of a military pension, denied professional work, Grigorenko, at age 58, emerged as a tireless campaigner for human rights. He became a mythic figure among Crimean Tatars for aiding their fight for national rights. He organized demonstrations at dissident trials in the late 1960s and wrote and signed petitions on behalf of dissidents. He attacked the use of psychiatric confinement as a method of punishing political prisoners. For his troubles, he was arrested again, in Tashkent on May 7, 1969, and held in psychiatric confinement until 1974. He subsequently became one of the founding members of the Moscow Helsinki Group, established after the signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975. On November 30, 1977, Grigorenko flew to New York with his wife and a son for emergency surgery. While there, he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship. Peter Reddaway, writing in 1972 about the Soviet human rights movement, said "if one person had to be singled out as having inspired the different groups within the Democratic movement more than anyone else, then it would surely be [Grigorenko]. Indeed he became, while free, in an informal way the movement's leader." Grigorenko died in New York City in 1987.

See also: dissident movement


Alexeyeva, Lyudmila. (1985). Soviet Dissent: Contemporary Movements for National, Religious and Human Rights. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Grigorenko, Petr. (1982). Memoirs. New York: Norton.

Reddaway, Peter. (1972). Uncensored Russia: Protest and Dissent in the Soviet Union. New York: American Heritage Press.

Jonathan Weiler

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Grigorenko, Peter Grigorievich

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