The Moscow Appeal (February 1974)

In the light of the threat of dissolution now facing the Memorial Society (December 2021) it is informative to see what prominent dissidents were demanding early in 1974.

Soviet dissenters (1977 photo), two of whom signed the 1974 Appeal.

From left to right: Naum Meiman, Sophia Kalistratova, Petro and Zinaida Grigorenko, Mother Velikanova, Father Sergy Zheludkov, Andrei Sakharov; (below) Genrikh Altunyan and Alexander Podrabinek

How many of their demands have since been met in Russia? (or in other parts of the former Soviet Union?)


The “Moscow Appeal” appeared on the day after Solzhenitsyn’s arrest.

Its authors, Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner, Vladimir Maximov, Mikhail Agursky, Boris Shragin, Pavel Litvinov, Yury Orlov, Father Sergy Zheludkov, Anatoly Marchenko and Larisa Bogoraz, demanded:

  • That The Gulag Archipelago be published in the USSR and made available to every compatriot;[1]
  • That archival and other materials be published [2] which would give a full picture of the activities of the Cheka, NKVD and MGB [Previous titles of the KGB];
  • That an international public tribunal [3] be set up to investigate the crimes they had perpetrated;
  • That Solzhenitsyn be protected from persecution and allowed to work in his homeland.[4]

The authors of the “Moscow Appeal” called for national committees to be set up in various countries to collect signatures in support of the appeal.

Item 12:

“The Deportation of Solzhenitsyn”,

A Chronicle of Current Events (32.1), 17 July 1974



[1] The Gulag Archipelago was first published in the USSR in successive issues of the Novy mir monthly, starting in July 1989. The first Soviet publication of the work in its entirety took place in 1990.

In 2009, a one-volume edition of The Gulag Archipelago, abridged by Solzhenitsyn’s widow Natalia, was added to the secondary school curriculum.

[2] In June 1992 President Yeltsin issued an edict that all archive materials relating to “mass crimes” should be declassified within three months. Thirty years on that goal had still not been achieved (see Prudovsky & Krivenko, April 2021).

[3] The late Vladimir Bukovsky devoted an entire book, Judgement in Moscow (2016), to the necessity for a Moscow equivalent of the Nuremberg Tribunals.

[4] Alexander Solzhenitsyn was deported from the Soviet Union in February 1974. He returned to live in Russia late in May 1994. He died there in 2008.