Remembering a Dissident

Editors’ note: Yuri Glazov, Russian dissident and the father of Frontpage’s editor Jamie Glazov, died 17 years ago on March 15, 1998. To mark this occasion Frontpage is reprinting Jamie’s dedication to his father from our March 11, 2014 issue. We also hope readers will contribute to the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award to keep the memory of Yuri and his fight 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, came down with sepsis (blood poisoning) and was hospitalized. The Communist Party was as cold and unforgiving as the Siberian winter, and the KGB sharks waited for him to either die or to arrive home from his sickbed, upon which they would continue their persecution of him. Because of very brave friends like Dr. Anna Marshak who provided Western medication to my father, he survived. His 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 New York University and then 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.

[My mom and dad in Italy in 1972 when we first left the Soviet Union.]

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 judgment 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 still in power, we witnessed, a few years back, the preparation for the 65th anniversary celebration of the Soviet victory in WWII 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 manifested itself in a beverage plant in Volgograd releasing a series of soft drinks picturing the dictator on its labels and in the introduction of new textbooks 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. Today, each of us can help keep the flame for Russian freedom alive and to help the brave Russian people fighting for justice and liberty.

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 insufficient and has not reached the necessary level to be effective. 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 contribute to the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award, click here.

To learn more about Yuri Glazov, watch Jamie Glazov discuss his family background in the 2-part series below:

Part I:

Part II:

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Subscribe to Frontpage’s TV show, The Glazov Gang, on YouTube and LIKE it on Facebook.

  • truthhurts


    • jamieglazov11

      Thank you truthhurts!

  • Olive Tree

    This is an amazing story and a great inspiration to never sit back because you are only one person.

  • mezcukor

    Great and sad story.I hate communism.

  • wileyvet

    The entire Bolshevik experiment was a disgusting terrifying and tragically sad episode in the already sad history of Russia. Nothing the Czars did came even close to the oppressive and repressive conditions inflicted on the Russian people by Lenin and his successor Iosif Dzhugashvili. The entire rotten stinking edifice was a fraud and an abomination from day one and continued to the collapse of that evil empire. Generations of Russians were cheated of a life. A living nightmare for all those that endured; relief coming only from a bullet from the Cheka, Ogpu, NKVD or KGB henchmen.

    Yet while all of this was going on, useful idiots in the west were singing the praises of Communism and its leaders. If vocal and tacit approval were not enough there were those that chose to be members of worldwide Communist Parties. Many becoming Soviet agents and selling out their own countries for the twisted cause of Soviet Communist domination. Not content to destroy their own country, the Communists exported this vile soul and spirit crushing ideology around the globe.

    While real Russian dissidents like Yuri Glazov were being persecuted, American nitwits were advancing in Academia by promoting the very ideology that cost millions of Russians their livelihood or indeed their very lives. Millions of lives destroyed, yet we are to feel sorry for the Hollywood Ten, or Alger Hiss. The same propaganda that was used to destroy “wreckers” was used by the American CPU to discredit Whittaker Chambers et al.

    As Fidel Castro turned a once prosperous Caribbean nation into an island Gulag, and Ho Chi Min was exterminating Vietnamese, college campus Lefties in American Army jackets, supported by radical professors were touting these regimes in glowing terms and gave full support to the totalitarianism that followed. They never lived the horrors of the system they advocated.

    During the entire life of the Soviet Union, particularly the Stalinist period, it has been put forth by various historians that no Russian family escaped without being affected by having a family member arrested, tortured, enslaved or just disappear.

    When the consequences of confronting tyranny can prove fatal as it did for so many over the decades, it is good to remember that there was once a time that courageous individuals like Yuri Glazov did what was right. They lived and they were real, living through what surely seemed an unreal period. The strength it took to do that and survive has obviously passed on to Dr. Jamie Glazov, and explains his passion for what he does. We who come to FPM are the better for it. Thank you Jamie and thank you Yuri Glazov.

    • truthhurts

      you forgot daniel ortega in Nicaragua. he is a dictator who with the help of Iran has taken over that country just to radicalize some of the people there, and now muslims are building their mosque and they have a growing population in that country,…they are silent now, BUT wait until they take over

      Cantral American countries are a high risk because middle eastern muslims are bringing money in to pay the goverments there ( buying them ) so they can put a foot on the door, then they get what they want

  • Chuck

    Not to put any equivalency between what your father went through and present-day USA, but it’s funny how similar libs. are to the Soviets. Your dad was fired from the university for expressing opposition to the government, while liberals would have professors fired here for not towing the line with global warming, or expressing other “subversive” ideas, such as rejecting Darwinism.

  • Daniel

    I got to tell you………I love FrontPage Magazine(even on those rare occasions when it seems like I don’t).
    The writers, the posters, the casual readers…….the topics…….the elevated debate…..all of it.
    It’s like I tell people…….You want to stop splashing in the kiddy pool and go for a swim in the deep waters?
    Go to FrontPage.
    I always loved Jamie Glazov’s sensibility before I ever knew about his family’s past.
    And after reading Jamie’s first tribute to his father… all became clear.
    THIS is as good as it gets and I look forward to it every year.
    RIP Yuri Glazov…..and may Jamie and FP live to be 100.

    • jamieglazov11

      Thank you so much Daniel!

  • cheri

    What a beautiful tribute. The silent struggles and the immense suffering the pure of heart suffered for the sake of truth, freedom and integrity is pretty much only known to the families, who endured the terror alongside these brave souls. But oh, what a legacy they leave behind. It is unshakable and solidifies into other pure souls, who find the courage to fight oppression and repression by their example. Thank you for continuing to share Mr. Yuri Glazov’s bravery. It gives our generations an example to emulate. All generations need to hear and see these examples of courage to continue the fight.

    The fear perpetrated by Soviet Union, as well as the entire Soviet Bloc during those times was no picnic. I don’t think Americans will ever realize the intense crippling fear that gripped ordinary citizens that lived through those regimes. I pray we never will. It was beyond awful. Just like a “Twilight Zone” episode except is was reality for so many.

    In those times, it was easier to capitulate to the regime for survival (can we honestly say we would be any different?), but it took a rare character to stand up and fight the oppressive regime. Some got out and thrived, most did not. I can only speculate that Mr. Glazov was haunted by those who did not.

    I loved this tribute. Share it again and again.

    Thank you!

    • jamieglazov11

      I really appreciate it cheri.

  • JK

    Great article, Jamie. Your father was truly a courageous and compassionate man who led by example.

    (After “lurking” for months on frontpage, I finally signed up for Disqus just to be able to “like” this article!)

    • jamieglazov11

      Thank you so much JK!

  • jamieglazov11

    Thanks so much Olive Tree.