Soviet dissidents  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Soviet dissidents were citizens of the Soviet Union who disagreed with the policies and actions of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet government and actively protested against these actions through either violent or non-violent means. Through such protests, Soviet dissidents incurred harassment, persecution, imprisonment or death by the KGB, or other Soviet government agencies.

While dissent with Soviet policies and persecution for this dissent existed since the times of the 1917 October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet power, the term is most commonly applied to the dissidents of the post-Stalin era, because after mass extermination of Stalin's political opponents the Soviet regime faced the new generation of opposition, and began attacking those intellectuals who opposed political censorship, repressions and other violations of human rights.

Under Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev the Soviet regime continued intimidation of opponents by censorship, arrests, harassment, imprisonment and/or involuntary exile in of many prominent cultural leaders, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner, Joseph Brodsky, Natan Sharansky, Pyotr Grigorenko, Yuli Daniel, Vasili Aksyonov, Mstislav Rostropovich, Galina Vishnevskaya, Aleksandr Galich, and others. A few cultural figures managed to escape from the Soviet regime, such as Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lyudmila Makarova, Mikhail Shemyakin, William Brui, and others. Attacks on prominent dissidents ended with Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s and partial liberation of political prisoners from GULAG prison-camps. However, the political leadership of post-soviet Russia continued harsh treatment of opposition by censorship, harassment, and/or imprisonment .

From the early 1970s, the term dissident was first used in the Western media and subsequently, with derision, by the Soviet propaganda. Human rights activists in the USSR then adopted this term in the mid-1970s.

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