Remembering a Dissident

One day, when I was nine years old, my father and I were on our way to Church. As we neared the entrance, I spat on the ground. Reflexively, my dad’s arm shot out across my chest like a railway barrier, blocking my motion forward. We stood there, frozen in time, for some three seconds until my father uttered, in a very serious but patient way: “It is ok to spit outside of KGB headquarters, but never in front of a place such as this.” I registered the message and indicated my understanding — and we proceeded on our way.

That was my dad’s moral clarity and sharp, quick-witted way with words; and the sacred values that spawned those words made a profound impression on me from the moment of my birth. I was born into a family of Russian dissidents — a father and a mother, Yuri and Marina Glazov, who put their clenched fists up and went toe-to-toe with the Evil Empire.

Throughout my youth, my dad shared many stories with me, which included how he had always been aware, even in his youth, that he existed in a slave camp masquerading as a country and that he perpetually dreamed of escaping it. He spent his young years studying maps, trying to decipher which body of water he could swim across to escape the communist paradise he languished in. But his life ended up going a different way: he confronted the slave masters, rather than escaping the prison they had built.

My father was a scholar at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and a professor at Moscow State University. His main field of study concerned Oriental languages and cultures, with a specialty in the Chinese, Sanskrit and Tamil areas. Despite his rewarding career, my dad put everything on the line and began to attend human rights demonstrations in Moscow on behalf of political prisoners. He also started to sign letters of protest against the political repressions that were heightening in the country in the 1960s, connected as they were to the re-Stalinization of the Soviet Union after the Khrushchev thaw. The activities my dad engaged in could land a Soviet citizen in the gulag or a psychiatric hospital for decades.

On February 24, 1968, my father signed the Letter of Twelve, a letter written and signed by twelve Soviet dissidents to the Supreme Congress of Communist Parties in Budapest denouncing Soviet human rights abuses. He was immediately fired from his work for being “unprofessional” in his scholarly studies (even though he previously had received high praise for his academic studies).

The picture of my dad, shown above, was taken by a friend who had come to visit him the evening of the day he was expelled from the Academy. My father had been at a meeting at the closed section of the Supreme Soviet of Scholars. Before the committee announced his expulsion, he had delivered a strong speech about political repressions in the country and finished by talking about his hope that the days of freedom would one day come to his beloved Russia.

After his expulsion, my father received a labor card with a special secret code that meant that he was blacklisted and could not receive employment anywhere in the country. He even tried to get a job cleaning streets, but was refused once an employer saw the poisoned markings. In a Soviet Catch-22, because of his “unemployment,” the KGB began to persecute my father for “parasitism” — a law in the Soviet Union that criminalized unemployed people and subsequently shipped them off to labor camps in Siberia.

Under these circumstances, my dad’s health broke down. He became very sick and was hospitalized. The Communist Party was as cold and unforgiving as the Siberian winter, and the KGB sharks waited for him to arrive home from his sickbed. But my dad’s sickness and several other developments threw the unfolding narrative down a different path:

During this time, a friend of our family’s told my dad that, under vicious harassment by the KGB (they had discovered an affair she was having and threatened to tell her husband), she had agreed to be a witness for them in a trial against my father that would charge (and convict) him of selling foreign currency and drugs on the black market (which she would place in our apartment). Upon hearing this, my dad knew the KGB was going for the jugular and that he only had one hand left to play. He immediately sent a letter to the Department for Exit Visas in which he said: give me a job or let me out of the country. Shortly afterwards, in April 1972, before Nixon’s visit to Moscow — and perhaps because of that visit — my father received the Exit Visa to emigrate from the Soviet Union. In escaping the Soviet hell, he was able to bring his family (my mom, my sister Elena, my brother Grisha and me) to the West.

[My family, after my father was expelled from the Academy. My mom is on the left and my older sister, Elena, is on the right. I''m the youngest, with my older brother Grisha behind me.]

My father never stopped fighting the Soviet system and the murderous, anti-human ideology that spawned it. He never fell into silence about the genocide and monstrous oppression communism engendered everywhere it set foot. He was always outspoken on behalf of political prisoners that languished in communist gulags around the world. I grew up in this spirit that my dad (and mom) nurtured in our family, and my heart and mind, from a young age, were preoccupied with the fate and sufferings of heroes like Russia’s Vladimir Bukovsky and Cuba’s Armando Valladares.

I am eternally grateful to my father, and to my mother, for having instilled in me one of the highest values in life, which we find in Hebrews 13:3: Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. And that is precisely that value that explains why I am at Frontpage Magazine today, fighting on the front lines alongside a noble warrior like David Horowitz on behalf of freedom fighters everywhere, and in particular the brave Muslim dissidents, Christians, Jews, Muslim women, and all other minorities and peoples, who are being viciously persecuted under Islamist tyranny.

When my dad arrived in the U.S. via Italy, he first taught at Boston College as Professor of Russian Studies. He then moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the Department of Russian Studies at Dalhousie University. He loved to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky and the history of Russian ideas.

In 1992, the Soviet Academy of Sciences apologized to my father for persecuting him earlier, and now invited him to re-establish scholarly contacts. In the mid-1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, my father received a document from the Sakharov Archives located in Boston. Dated February 19, 1971, it was a top secret letter written by Yuri Andropov, leader of the KGB at the time, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Filled with obscene lies and clear self-induced lies, it accused my dad of terrorism and espionage, indicating the kind of trial the KGB was preparing for my dad in those horrifying years. This document proves how much the KGB hated dissidents and spread the most vicious lies about them (being CIA agents etc.).

Bugging the regular conversations of my father with Sakharov, mostly in Sakharov’s apartment, the KGB deliberately distorted the discussions, parts of which dealt with the history of terrorism in Russia. The so-called “espionage” of my father was based on his correspondence with international scholars in his field, which my father dared to conduct in those dangerous years. Naturally, his letters were perlustrated and listed in the KGB files.

My father published numerous books and articles in both Russian and English. The two books that became best known were, The Russian Mind Since Stalin’s Death and To Be or Not to Be in the Party: Communist Party Membership in the USSR.

My dad died of cancer on March 15, 1998. It was before the Vladimir Putin period, but my father already gauged, with great disappointment, what was happening in his beloved homeland. He understood the disaster and tragedy concerning the future moral health of his country when Nuremberg-style trials did not follow the collapse of the Soviet Union. The crimes and atrocities of Soviet communism – and the ideology that engendered the mass murder of 60 million people – were all supposed to be revealed and condemned. The secret KGB archives were supposed to be opened. The exposure and punishment of high ranking KGB officers and communist officials were supposed to take place in front of the whole world. Instead, these criminals and mafia figures remained in power — just in new clothing and using new language.

New school textbooks were supposed to be introduced – like those in post-war Germany that dealt honestly with the crimes of the Nazi era. It is impossible to imagine Hitler being praised in today’s German school texts or his glorified portrait being hung high in the streets of Germany. But in Russia, the mirror image of that horror happened and still continues today.

So, today, with Putin and his KGB thugs and murderers in power, we are now witnessing the preparation for the 65th anniversary celebration of the Soviet victory in WWII; it will be marked with portraits of Joseph Stalin as the country’s victorious war-time leader. This is no surprise, of course, since Putin has overseen a strong pining for Stalin in Russia, which now manifests itself in a beverage plant in Volgograd releasing a series of soft drinks picturing the dictator on its labels and a new textbook in schools speaking of the mass murderer as, among other things, an “effective manager.”

What would my father have thought of all of these developments if he were alive today? So many dissidents sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom in the Soviet Union. For what? Russia was given the window of opportunity to choose freedom in the early 1990s, but it chose to turn its back on this historic opportunity. My father shared the same fate as many of his friends and other dissidents: if you avoided being murdered, you passed away early from cancer or other illnesses. One can only imagine what terrible stress these freedom fighters endured for the sake of bringing liberty to their nation. Was it all in vain?

I don’t think it was. What my father and the other courageous warriors did was meaningful in its own right. Moreover, the struggle my father’s life valiantly represented lives on. And today, each of us can help keep the flame alive.

My father’s career at Dalhousie lasted twenty years – until his retirement in 1995. To honor his memory, a memorial award was established in his name. But funding for this award has been scarce and now the possibility has emerged that it will be shut down. This memorial fund is really the only marker in existence that publicly keeps alive who my dad was, what he did, and what he represented. It symbolizes the struggle of all dissidents for truth and for freedom. If some funds begin to materialize, the memorial award for my father can remain in existence. I would like to put a request to all of you who care and who can help, to kindly click on this site at Dalhousie to read about the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award and to contribute in any way you can – and even the smallest contribution will count a lot.

Thank you, I am most grateful to all of you who will help to make sure that my dad’s battle – and the battle of so many freedom fighters and martyrs who rose and fell fighting Soviet communism – will not be forgotten.

To read about the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award, click here.

  • Cabby – AZ

    Thank you, Jamie, for telling this story of unspeakable courage and perseverance .
    God has given you a wonderful heritage in your father, and you so ably carry the
    torch for freedom in a way that honors his memory.

    It touches my heart to read about his travails and fight for liberty, because having
    been born in the USA, I nonetheless was made aware of the terrible suffering of
    Europeans during WW II at a young age. During those days (1940's) the most
    current news was often in newsreels in movie theaters, as well as some newspapers.

    The atrocities reported stirred me immensely. It was so hard to believe that others
    were going through unspeakable suffering and death.

    Then in the early 1960's my family became acquainted with Dr. Fred Schwartz, who
    at that time lectured all over the country on the dangers of Communism. We
    had the privilege of hearing him and also reading his most popular book, "You Can
    Trust the Communists (to be Communists)", which is now out of print.

    Last year I found my only copy and reread it. I don't know if you have ever heard of
    him, but he sacrificed a successful medical practice in Australia to set the example
    he believed that others should follow by devoting himself full time to opposition to
    Communism. He passed away a couple of years ago.

    Dr. Schwartz had never been a communist, but was one of the most well informed
    students of Marxist-Leninist doctrine and capably debated on college campuses.

    My recent review of that book has sent chills down my spine and brought back the
    realization that we as a nation are falling into a trap that is nothing new.

    I want to quote something from pgs. 150-151 of that book:
    "The word 'progressive' has become one of their basic words…..The Communists
    apply this principle of progress in change to their own status within society…….
    They are the wave of the future. Their victory is as certain as the rising of the sun
    because the same material law that causes the sun to rise in the morning has
    ordained that they shall conquer and rule the world……Since they believe this
    completely, their convictions are undisturbed by any evidence to the contrary that
    may appear from day to day……The idea that their faith can be shattered by any-
    thing they see at present is naive to the point of imbalance…."

    This all ties in so well with the recent statements made by David Horowitz regarding
    progressives' emphasis on the future, while conservatives remember the past.

    All of this explains the undeterred determination of the Democrats to push through
    this massive power grab for healthcare, even if it costs them their positions. It's
    all about ideology and resulting control of the masses. History has proved that
    there can be no good outcome.

    • yogiman

      History repeats it's self, Cabby.

  • Rybbe

    Jamie- thank you for sharing your father's compelling story. Your family's experiences, and your work are just some of the many reasons why we come to Frontpage everyday. I feel like I am feeding my brain superfood when I read your posts.

    What would your father have thought of the leftward turn the US has taken lately?

    • jamie glazov

      Thank you so much Rybbe. He would be very disappointed. He would be also devastated about Putin ruling Russia.

      • trickyblain

        While your father seemed very admirable, and this was a great tribute, you discredit yourself and this fine article. After living in a Soviet police state, just what aspects of the US today could be compared to the USSR? Please.

        • Dr. S. W.

          To Trickyblain: Which aspect of the US today could be compared to the USSR? Answer: The American postmodern university. No, they don't put you into labor camps. It's a "different kind" of gulag. If you disagree with race-based hiring, the sham of "diversity" and oppose "speech codes" — to only name a few of the PC tenets in today's academy — you are at minimum marganalized, harassed through "ethics complaints", have your reputation destroyed by being called a "racist" or are dismissed on trumped-up charges. Don't believe me? it happened to me. By the grace of God — and a law firm that took my wrongful dismissal case pro bono — I was reinstated and am still employed. it takes courage to speak up in today's academy. The consequences are dire, the stress immeasurable.

  • Alex

    Evidently, a set of Kodak camera with two telescopic lenses (which were often brought by our foreign friends and thereafter were sold on the Black Market to acquire some help for financially devastated families without any hope for work, and used to fund a purchase of photo-materials for copying and publishing crude Samizdat booklets, to list some of the use of these money) would carry you very far in the cesspool of the Soviet Jurisprudence.

  • ALEXISTAN

    Dear Mr Glazov,

    Thank you for your touching remembrance of this heroic man; you do him honor in your conduct and your writings as we, together, confront the forces of enslavement that seem so ascendent in our day. I hope that I can find the strength to shed my comforts, the chains, rather, of a comfortable life, to uphold his superb example of–how shall I put this?–manhood. I have long argued that the Russian failure to confront the very real Stavrogins, Verhovenskiis, and Colonel Cheptsovs in their midst; the slaughtering chekists, would, like an untreated abscess, spread the contagion. And, lo, behold. KGB-schooled and -inspired would-be and actual enslavers are all around us. Carry on the good work against suppression of thought and conscience. Expect a check for FrontPage, soon.

  • Grayzell

    "Throughout my youth, my dad shared many stories with me, which included how he had always been aware, even in his youth, that he existed in a slave camp masquerading as a country…" jamie glazov I find this sentence very reveling for today. How many more steps to eliminate the Constitution does our country have to take before many more of our people wake up and understand it. Jamie, thank you for your article.

  • 2maxpower

    Jamie thank you for sharing your story. I don't think a life is wasted if one does the right thing .

    That is the essence of doing the right thing, a life not wasted.

    Regards

  • William Smart

    The US does the same thing to the careers of their professors, including Jewish ones, and even if they're entirely patriotic.

    Norman Finkelstein was hounded in this way from one University to another all his life. His crime? Demolishing Joan Peters book "Time Immemorial" and Dershowitz's "The case for Israel". Watch the video debate in which Dershowitz promises to pay $10,000 to Hamas if there are mistakes in his book. Finkelstein had a pile of mistakes (eg quoting Benny Morris saying 2 to 3,000 refugees when he'd said 200 to 300,000), Dershowitz has never paid. The video is at http://www.democracynow.org/2003/9/24/scholar_nor

    • USMCSniper

      Billy Smart is like bubba4; so stupid he doesn't even suspect that he is stupid. Finklestein deserved to be hounded and deserved to be denied tenure, as he is not a scholar. nor even an intellectually competent academic.

  • Alex

    I am a former Soviet refusenik and dissident. After applying for exit visa in 1978, my family spent 9 years as Traitors of the Motherland and pariahs of the Workers Paradise. For the last 3 years of my being in the USSR I was engaged in illegal ani-Soviet agitation and propaganda which, if KGB would want to could lead to 5 years in prison and 7 years of deportation. I vividly remember Andropovs time re-installment of an old Stalins law adding another 10 years to this virtual death sentence if any foreign assistance (such as unauthorized contacts with foreigners, financial direct and/ or indirect help, etc, etc, etc) was a part of such a crime. This law implied that a seemingly innocent gift of a can of instant coffee, a sweater or a short waive radio shall be interpreted as a basis for an extra 10-year prize.

  • USMCSniper

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn died on August 3, 2008 and never reveived his due of what Russia owe him. But if reigning English, History professors, and textbook editors have their way, his significant writing would be conveniently disappeared.

    Of course, just like the murder of 100 million civilians dueing peacetime by communist regimes during the twentieth century is a fact ignored or illogically rationalized by leftists everywhere.

  • Dan

    In light of Putin's ascension, and the fact that your father could discern the KGB resurrection even before Putin, I wonder, Dr. Glazov, what your opinion of Anatoliy Golitsyn's work is? The chief criticism has been its paranoid style – but then, as you yourself know and your father knew better, Soviet Union was a conspiracy which created and maintained a concentration camp almost the size of Eurasia and containing approximately 1.5 billion people. What's less "believable" than that? And yet it is true. So – Golitsyn, what's your opinion. Thanks.

    • jamie glazov

      Thanks Dan, well I don't know, there are still many unanswered questions. Some of Golitsyn's conspiracy theories seem fat-fetched and questionable, but many developments in Russia confirm some of them to be based on some reality.

  • cochavi1

    Thanks, Jamie Glazov. Given current developments, your father was saved a considerable amount of pain.

    William Smart, what does lamentable Finklestein have to do with this? The massive weight of bigotry on the campuses is against the basic Jewish right to have a state, while the faculties gladly accept huge monies from Saudis and others devoted to spreading jihad.

  • Linda Rivera

    What wonderful and extremely courageous role models for parents!

  • http://feminine-genius.typepad.com gsk

    I just finished your book, Jamie, which was brilliant. The testament to your father therein (and this one) are commendable. Human nature in general, being what it is, often looks for the path of least resistance and it's taking its usual course. That makes it essential for men such as your father — and you and David — to recall us to our higher selves. Thanks for your great work.

    • jamie glazov

      Thank you gsk. The fight goes on. . . .

  • Nilsson

    I'm rather glad that Stalin and his incomparably gallant and determined Red Army was able to do 90% of the heavy lifting during WW2, and so were Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

    Vladimir Putin rules Russia today with the enthusiastic support of a sizeable majority of Russians, after the neoliberals, globalist and foreigners connived with 'Russian' oligarchs to loot it in the 1990s. Russia has never been a liberal democracy, and now that the model furnished by the USA is creaking so badly– compare and contrast with centralised, authoritarian China!– very likely it never will be. Most Russians prefer a strongman.

    (Neither was Solzhenitsyn a liberal democrat, btw.)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Dr_Moon Dr_Moon

    Jamie, I certainly hope your father's work won't be forgotten, but I'm afraid Communism is on the rise, especially here in America. Once the Marxist have buried the last bastion of freedom the world will shrivel and die. Can you see the whole earth going the way of Zimbabwe. If American's don't educate themselves, and rise to throw out this Democrat Administration we'll be the one's in the Gulags. Obama is already indoctrinating and training his youth Army in our public schools.

  • Daphne

    Jamie,
    Thank you for this moving account. Could you please clarify why your father was granted an exit visa. A comment by Alex a day ago indicates the potential danger merely in making such an application. What interest did the Party have in allowing your father to leave, instead of the alternatives?

    • jamie glazov

      Well long story, but for a brief moment the KGB felt it might be better to kick the trouble makers out rather than have them inside.

  • http://www.google.com CurtB

    Jamie,
    I grew up in the 70's during the cold war and remember what the Soviets used to be like(and appear to be returning to). I don't know if the present generations knows what it was like and forgets history. Your father had to be a truly courageous man to voice dissent against such a regime. We wil definitely need more like him in the future because leftists appear to have amnesia concerning their past track record.

  • Corinc

    Dear Jamie,
    I had the pleasure and honour of being one of you Dad’s students while I was at Dal from 1989-93. I must have taken three or four Russian literature classes, and it is not too much to say that he had a profound influence on my life. We used to talk very much outside of class and his peacefulness and convictions were a source of inspiration to me. Thank you for this piece, as there were many gaps in your father’s life history that you filled in. Truly a remarkable man, and I have made a donation to his scholarship fund. Let’s hope Dal has the means to keep it going.

    • jamie glazov

      Thank you Corinc, this means a lot. Really appreciated.

  • http://www.takebackcanada.com Jim C.

    Thanks, Jamie, for this poignant reminder of your Dad. My wife and I cherish our visits with him and your Mom. Yuri was a quiet, soft-spoken giant of a warrior for truth. We greatly respect him and the message he laboured to communicate. In these darkening days, here in the West, we encourage you, and others, to speak out truth to a sleeping populance. In all, though, to God be the glory – we can trust only in Him, not in any political ideal.

    • jamie glazov

      Thank you Jim, I really appreciate it.

  • Victor Yampolsky

    from Uncle Victor

    Dear Jamie
    thank you very much for your wonderful narration and reminder to all of us about your DAD.
    We were very dear friends and our lives were unseparable. In some ways your DAD never left my life, or my mind or my memory.
    It is hard to understand that the fund in his memory could be shut down. I will definitely contribute to it's revival.
    Take care and be well!
    Yours – Uncle Victor

    • jamie glazov

      Thank you Uncle Victor. Much love.