Vladimir Bukovsky, 1942-2019

Belebei (USSR), 30 December 1942 — Cambridge (UK), 27 October 2019.

Vladimir BUKOVSKY died of cardiac arrest in Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, England at 9:30 pm (Greenwich Mean Time) on Sunday, 27 October 2019. He was 76. His health had been poor in recent years.

After his expulsion from the USSR in December 1976, he spent his last four decades writing and campaigning against successive regimes in his homeland.


bukovsky in West (late 1970s)Bukovsky first gained notoriety as a student writer and organizer in Moscow.

In 1963, he was arrested for possessing forbidden literature. Rather than put him on trial, Soviet authorities had him declared mentally ill and locked him in a psychiatric hospital — a common tactic used in the USSR to discredit dissenters and confine them without appearing to be holding political prisoners.

He was arrested again in 1967 and sent to a labor camp for three years.

After his release, Bukovsky created an international uproar when he had psychiatric hospital records for six well-known dissidents smuggled to the West in 1971. International psychiatrists’ organizations studied the records and charged Soviet doctors and the government with creating false diagnoses as a way to indefinitely detain possibly thousands of political opponents who showed no medically recognized symptoms of mental illness.

After another prison sentence, Bukovsky was deported from the USSR in exchange for Luis Corvalán, the imprisoned general secretary of the Communist Party of Chile. Bukovsky was not due for release until 1983.

Bukovsky, 1977

In the West after his release


The Chronicle documented Bukovsky’s battle against the Soviet regime in numerous reports, between 1968 and 1976.

In 1992, Bukovsky gained admission to the CPSU Central Committee archives in Moscow and secretly copied thousands of pages of classified documents. These formed the basis of his last book, Judgment in Moscow, finally published in English this year.


The above text has been adapted from the obituary notice issued by the Bukovsky Centre in California.