Viktor Fainberg

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Viktor Isaakovich Fainberg
Виктор Исаакович Файнберг
Victor Fainberg in Paris.JPG
Fainberg in Paris
Born (1931-11-26) November 26, 1931 (age 88)
NationalityUkrainian Jew
CitizenshipRussia, France
Educationphilology of the English language and literature
Alma materthe Leningrad University
Occupationphilology, politics
Known forhis participation in the dissident movement in the Soviet Union, the 1968 Red Square demonstration and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse which led the struggle against political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union
Movementdissident movement in the Soviet Union
Partner(s)Marina Voikhanskaya
Childrenson Yuri
Parent(s)Isaac Fainberg and Sarah Dashevskaya
AwardsMedal of the President of the Slovak republic

Viktor Isaakovich Fainberg (Russian: Ви́ктор Исаа́кович Фа́йнберг, born 26 November 1931,[1] Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR[2]:195, 200) is a philologist, prominent figure of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union, participant of the 1968 Red Square demonstration,[2]:195 and the director of the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse.[3][4][5][6]


Viktor Fainberg was born to the married couple of Isaac Fainberg and Sarah Dashevskaya. In his life as a child, while attending school during an antisemitic campaign of 1948-1952, he was subjected to harassment that, in his own words, he did not reconcile himself to, but entered the fray with an abuser. As the result of these frays, he got a referral to a psychiatrist.

In 1957, in connection with antisemitic insult, he had a fight with a policeman and for this reason was sentenced to 1 year of corrective labor.[7]

In 1968, he graduated from the English unit of the philological department of the Leningrad University where he defended his diploma thesis about writer Salinger with distinction. In the summer of 1968, Fainberg worked as a guide for the Pavlovsk Palace.[2]:195

Viktor Fainberg was one of the seven persons who participated in the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the intervention into Czechoslovakia.[8]:77 During the demonstration and his arrest, he lost many teeth and in this unpresentable state was never presented for trial; instead, he was placed to a psychiatric hospital.[9]:147

Fainberg was examined by the Serbsky Institute commission composed of G.V. Morozov, D.R. Lunts and Y.L. Lindau. In their act No 35 / s dated October 10, 1968, they did not mention the invasion of Czechoslovakia, which gave rise to this demonstration, the action was merely described as 'disorderly conduct at Red Square,' and Fainberg's mental condition was described as follows:[10]

With enthusiasm and strong obsession he expresses ideas of reformism as to Marxism classics' teaching, while revealing clearly his increased self-esteem and firm belief in his rightness. At the same time, his remarks about his family, parents, and son reveal his emotional flatness... In the Institute department, one can note his unconcern, indifference to himself and others in his outwardly orderly behavior. He is occupied with gymnastics, rubdown, reading books, and studying literature in English. His insight into his condition and the emerged situation is clearly insufficient.[2]:201, 202[10]

As a result, he was committed for compulsory treatment to the Special Psychiatric Hospital in Leningrad where he was confined from January 1969 to February 1973.[8]:77[10]

At the hospital, Fainberg went on hunger strike in protest, was subjected to forced feeding and was treated with chlorpromazine despite his hyperthyroidism that was somatic contraindication to chlorpromazine therapy.[10]:122

Marina Vaykhanskaya, a psychiatrist at the hospital, assisted Fainberg by passing information about him to dissidents outside. She was dismissed for this activity which helped Fainberg be released. In 1974, they married and emigrated from the Soviet Union.[11]

In emigration, Fainberg has initiated the formation of "Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuses" (CAPA) to fight punitive psychiatry in the USSR.[4] In 1983, the Soviet Union was expelled from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA).[11]


On October 27, 2014, along with other 3 dissenters from summer of 1968, Viktor Fainberg was decorated by Slovak President Andrej Kiska for his show of solidarity to Czechoslovakia. He received the Medal of the President of the Slovak republic along with Vladimir Dremlyuga and Pavel Litvinov. Natalya Gorbanevskaya received the highest Slovak award, Order of the White Double Cross, in memoriam.[12]

Renowned British playwright Tom Stoppard wrote the play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour dedicated to Vladimir Bukovsky and Viktor Fainberg.[4][13]:359

Viktor has daughter, Sarah, who is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.[14]


  1. ^ Толстой, Иван; Гаврилов, Андрей (22 November 2011). "Юбилей правозащитника Виктора Файнберга" [The jubilee of human rights activist Viktor Fainberg] (in Russian). Radio Liberty.
  2. ^ a b c d Казнимые сумасшествием: Сборник документальных материалов о психиатрических преследованиях инакомыслящих в СССР / Редакторы: А. Артёмова, Л. Рар, М. Славинский (PDF). Франкфурт-на-Майне: Посев. 1971.
  3. ^ McKane, Richard (October 2001). "Poems from the Arsenal". Index on Censorship. 30 (4): 102–106. doi:10.1080/03064220108536983.
  4. ^ a b c Банчик, Надежда (11–17 January 2008). "Виктор Файнберг: Одна жизнь и покушение в Париже". Интернет-газета «Мы здесь». Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ Harper, Catherine (28 April 1977). "Where dissent may spell torture of mind and body". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7.
  6. ^ Heinrichs, Paul (22 April 1977). "Tortured activist wants Russia condemned". The Age. p. 11.
  7. ^ "Люди августа 1968... - ПОЛИТ.РУ". Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  8. ^ a b van Voren, Robert (2009). On Dissidents and Madness: From the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin. Amsterdam—New York: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2585-1.
  9. ^ Mount, Ferdinand (1993). Communism: a TLS companion. University of Chicago Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0226543246.
  10. ^ a b c d Прокопенко, Анатолий (1997). Безумная психиатрия: секретные материалы о применении в СССР психиатрии в карательных целях (in Russian). Москва: "Совершенно секретно". ISBN 978-5-85275-145-4. Archived from the original on 2010-02-19. (The Russian text of the book in full is available online on the website of the organization "Help for Psychiatric Survivors")
  11. ^ a b Жаворонкова, Юлия (November–December 2000). "Частушки в контексте вялотекущей шизофрении". Журнал "Пчела": Обозрение деятельности негосударственных организаций Санкт-Петербурга (№ 30). Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
  12. ^ "Kiska vyznamenal demonštrantov proti okupácii v roku 1968" [Kiska decorated demonstrators against occupation in 1968] (Press release) (in Slovak). SITA. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  13. ^ Caute, David (2005). The dancer defects: the struggle for cultural supremacy during the Cold War. Oxford University Press. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-19-927883-1.
  14. ^ Levy, Elias (31 March 2015). "La Russie de Poutine, les Juifs et Israël". The Canadian Jewish news (in French).



The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes videotaped Fainberg's spoken autobiography in Russian: