Abbreviations & Definitions


Amnesty — periodically issued, marking anniversaries of October 1917 Revolution, 1922 formation of the USSR, etc. (They excluded anyone convicted of “especially serious State crimes”, Articles 64-73, cf. CCE 29.11).

ASCULP – the All-Union Christian Union for the Liberation of the People (see CCE 1.6)

ASSR – Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Buryatia, Crimea, Komi, etc)


BUR – punishment barrack in a penal labour colony (lit. “intensified regime” barrack)


Camp terminology, see Prison and Camp terminology

CCE – A Chronicle of Current Events (Moscow)

Central Committee — refers to the heart of the Soviet bureaucracy, the Moscow-based Central Committee of the CPSU

CHR – A Chronicle of Human Rights in the USSR (New York; see CCE 29.1)

CPSU — Communist Party of the Soviet Union (see Central Committee)


MVD – Ministry of Internal Affairs (see also UVD and OVD)


NTS – the People’s Labour Union

NBSJ – News Bulletin on Soviet Jewry (Tel Aviv)


OUN – the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists

OVD – Division of Internal Affairs at district level (within city or Region)

OVIR – Visa and Registrations Department


Party — the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (see CPSU), represented at the highest level by the Central Committee and by Party committees at all enterprises, educational and other institutions.

“Passport” — obligatory ID document for domestic use only

“People’s vigilante” — voluntary people’s militia [DND], druzhinnik

Politicial Prisoners — term defined by Chalidze and applied by Lyubarsky in compiling annual lists of prisoners, see A List of Political Prisoners, August 1977 (CCE 46.23)

Prison and Camp terminology [link to separate page]

Prisoners of Conscience — 1961 Amnesty International definition (also used by the Moscow Helsinki Group), see Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR (2nd edition, 1980)


rehabilitation — official admission that no crime had been committed; process in late 1950s (and again in late 1980s) when tens of thousands were declared “innocent”, especially if convicted by extra-judicial bodies, e.g. troika. Cf. pardon.

RSFSR — Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic


samizdat – unofficial publication that has not been passed by the censor (Glavlit)

SPH – Special Psychiatric Hospital

SSR – Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia, etc)


tamizdat – publication outside USSR of book, etc., without official approval; then often reimported into the USSR.


UPA – Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army (1942-1950)

USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

UVD – Department or Directorate of Internal Affairs (at city or Regional level)


Vestnik RSKhD – Herald of the Russian Student Christian Movement (Paris)

Publications in Western languages …