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An appeal for help
23 Jul 2020
BY JEMIMAH STEINFELD

An appeal is published in The Times from Pavel Litvinov, grandson of the former Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, and his wife Ivy, alongside Larisa Bogoraz, the former wife of writer Yuli Daniel. The appeal is organised by the poet Stephen Spender. It asks the world to condemn the rigged trial of two young writers and their typists on charges of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. It prompts a telegram of support and sympathy from 16 British and US luminaries, including W H Auden, A J Ayer, Maurice Bowra, Julian Huxley, Mary McCarthy, Bertrand Russell and Igor Stravinsky.

A further letter is written by Litvinov, who asks for the creation of an “international committee or council that would make it its purpose to support the democratic movement in the USSR. This committee could be composed of universally respected progressive writers, scholars, artists and public personalities from England, the United States, France, Germany and other western countries, and also from Latin America, Asia, Africa and, in the future, even from Eastern Europe…. Of course, this committee should not have an anti-communist or anti-Soviet character. It would even be good if it contained people persecuted in their own countries for pro-communist or independent views…. The point is not that this or that ideology is not correct, but that it must not use force to demonstrate its correctness.”

Jemimah Steinfeld

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