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Editor’s note: Yuri Glazov, Russian dissident and the father of Frontpage’s editor Jamie Glazov, died thirteen years ago today on March 15, 1998. The editors felt it would be appropriate to mark this occasion by reprinting Jamie’s dedication to his father from our March 11, 2010 issue. We also hope readers will consider contributing to the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award to keep the memory of Yuri and his cause for freedom alive.
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.
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