Accomplices of Violence: Guilt and Purification through Altruism among the Moscow Human Rights Activists of the 1960s and 1970s

  • Barbara Walker
Part of the Mass Dictatorship in the 20th Century book series (MASSD)


The theme of samozhertvovanie (a term meaning both self-giving and self- sacrifice) in the Moscow human rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s invokes considerable passion as activists, opponents and observers have long debated the motives of participants in that movement. Some dissenters and their supporters have focused on the activists’ willingness to give up careers, health, social stability and even their lives for the sake of human rights in the Soviet system, while their critics both inside and outside the movement have viewed at least some dissenters as being motivated instead by self-interest, desiring primarily western currency, western contacts and fame. Debate over motives represented as selfless is by no means a new phenomenon in world history; it has played a role in discussions of altruism for as long as those discussions have been recorded.1 Many apparently find it difficult to believe in the integrity of claims of selflessness.


Soviet Period Hard Currency Political Prisoner Charitable Activity Soviet System 
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© Barbara Walker 2014

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  • Barbara Walker

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