6 x 6 x 6 … ?
Throughout its existence the Chronicle of Current Events was produced as classic samizdat on mechanical typewriters.
This form was adopted by its editors and contributors in response to the universal pre-publication (and pre-broadcast) censorship imposed over decades by the Soviet regime. The editors were anonymous and no postal address was printed in any issue. The “zero-generation” of one top and five carbon copies were typed by the editors and their trusted assistants, after which each copy was passed for similar reproduction and distribution to another trusted individual.
A widening influence
Despite such severe restriction on its activities the Chronicle nevertheless helped to disseminate ideas and extend its influence, providing a first link between “geographically isolated” sections of the human rights movement in the USSR and, moreover, between “human rights activists and members of other dissident movements” (Ludmilla Alexeyeva, Soviet Dissent, 1985).
The scope of the bi-monthly journal constantly expanded to include new parts of the Soviet Union and cover new issues, affecting particular confessional and ethnic groups. A comparison between the Contents pages of No 11 (December 1969) and No 53 (August 1979) show how the Chronicle grew over its fifteen years of publication in response to this widening two-way flow of information.
For instance, Russian was the medium of communication. However, the appearance of similar periodicals in other major langauges – the Ukrainian Herald (1970-5) and the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania (1971-1989) – altered the scope and manner of the Chronicle‘s own reporting. //
Disruption and demise
Publication was disrupted on three occasions: in 1973-1974 during the investigation of “Case No 24” when any new editor was threatened with arrest; in 1980 when Issue No 59 was confiscated in the last stages of preparation; and in 1983 when the very last issue (dated 31 December 1982) was prevented from circulating. Information continued to accumulate and find other outlets.
The Chronicle ceased to exist with the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of the last editor, Yury Shikhanovich, in November 1983.
All 64 available issues in the original Russian
were uploaded between 1998 and 2008 to the Memorial website
1968, Nos 1-5; 1969, Nos 6-11
1970, Nos 12-17; 1971, Nos 18-22; 1972, Nos 23-27
Nos 28 (1972), 29 and 30 (1973) were not issued until May 1974
1974, Nos 31-34; 1975, Nos 35-38; 1976, Nos 39-43;
1977, Nos 44-47; 1978, Nos 48-51; 1979, Nos 52-55
1980, Nos 56-58, 60 (No 59 was confiscated)
1981, Nos 61-63; 1982, Nos 64-65