Remembering the Battle Against Soviet Censorship

  • Kyiv journalist and collector  Vahtang Kipiani  with some samizdat
  • Remembering the Battle Against Soviet Censorship
  • Remembering the Battle Against Soviet Censorship
  • Gulag survivor and  former samizdat  author Ivan Gel
Issue 10, February 2009.

This January the Lviv Palace of Art s (20 Kopernika Street) hosted a thought-provoking and nostalgic exhibition of underground political writings which were secretly circulated by the democratic opposition during Soviet times. Known as samizdat, which literally means “self-published”, these works were often reproduced in their hundreds and passed from hand to hand among opponents of Soviet censorship as they fought a clandestine information war against the USSR’s distorted version of history. The exhibits featured cover the period 1964 until 1991 and are part of the personal collection of Kyiv journalist and collector Vahtang Kipiani. Mr. Kipiani has previously exhibited his collection at Kyiv’s Mohylyanska Academy is also taking his unique show to Lutsk, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kharkiv. The exhibition featured over 700 examples of samizdat including patriotic appeals to Ukrainians and witty satires of Soviet officialdom. “My Lviv exhibits include many Lviv underground newspapers including the famous edition of “Ukrainsky Visnyk” by Vyacheslav Chornovil, who was the first person to actually publish his name as the editor of an underground newspaper in the Soviet Union,” explains Kipiani. Other curiosities include a 1986 fanzine from Kharkiv called Rocker Courier which featured pop and rock reviews and which was produced by Oleksandr Martynenko, who would go to be President Kuchma’s press secretary!