Yuli Daniel

Yuli Daniel
The bookcover of The Letters from Prison

Yuli Markovich Daniel (Russian: Ю́лий Ма́ркович Даниэ́ль; November 15, 1925 — December 30, 1988) was a Soviet dissident writer, poet, translator and political prisoner. He frequently wrote under the pseudonyms Nikolay Arzhak (Николай Аржак) and Yu. Petrov (Ю.Петров).


Early life and World War II

Yuli Daniel was born in Moscow into the family of Yiddish playwright M. Daniel (Mark Meyerovich, Russian: Марк Наумович Меерович), who took the pseudonym Daniel. The famous march song of the Soviet young pioneers, "Орленок" (Young Eagle), was originally written for one of his plays. Daniel's uncle, an ardent revolutionary (alias Liberten), was a member of Comintern who perished in the Great Purge.

In 1942, during Wold War II, Daniel lied about his age and volunteered to serve at the front. He fought in the 2nd Ukrainian and the 3rd Belorussian fronts, in 1944 was critically wounded in his legs and demobilized due to his pursuant disability.

Writing and arrest

In 1950, he graduated from Moscow Pedagogical Institute and worked as a school teacher in Kaluga and Moscow regions. He published his poetry translations from a variety of languages. Daniel and his friend Andrei Sinyavsky also wrote satirical novels and smuggled them to France to be published under pseudonyms. (See samizdat)

He married Larisa Bogoraz who later also became a famous dissident. In 1965, Daniel and Sinyavsky were arrested and tried in the infamous Sinyavsky-Daniel trial. On February 14, 1966, Daniel was sentenced to five years of hard labor for "anti-Soviet activity". Both writers entered a plea of not guilty, unprecedented in the USSR[citation needed].

Late years and influence

According to Fred Coleman, "Historians now have no difficulty pinpointing the birth of the modern Soviet dissident movement. It began in February 1966 with the trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, two Russian writers who ridiculed the Communist regime in satires smuggled abroad and published under pen names. They didn't realize at the time that they were starting a movement that would help end Communist rule."[1] Sinyavsky and Daniel did not intend to ridicule the Soviet Union. Daniel was genuinely worried about a resurgence of the Cult of Personality under Khrushchev, which inspired his story 'This is Moscow Speaking', while Sinyavsky affirmed that he believed Socialism was the way forward but that the methods employed were at times erroneous.

After four years of captivity in Mordovia labor camps and one year in Vladimir prison, Daniel refused to emigrate (as was customary among Soviet dissidents) and lived in Kaluga.

Before his death, Bulat Okudzhava acknowledged that some translations published under Okudzhava's name were ghostwritten by Daniel who was on the list of authors banned to be published in the USSR.


  1. ^ Coleman, Fred (August 15, 1997). The Decline and Fall of Soviet Empire : Forty Years That Shook The World, From Stalin to Yeltsin. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-16816-0.  p. 95


  • "Бегство" (The Escape), 1956
  • "Человек из МИНАПа" (A Man from MINAP), 1960 [1]
  • "Говорит Москва" (Report from Moscow), 1961 [2]
  • "Искупление" (The Redemption), 1964
  • "Руки" (The Hands)
  • "Письмо другу" (A Letter to a Friend), 1969
  • "Ответ И.Р.Шафаревичу" (The Response to Igor Shafarevich), 1975
  • "Книга сновидений" (A Book of Dreams)
  • "Я все сбиваюсь на литературу..." Письма из заключения. Стихи (The Letters from Prison), 1972 (ISBN 0-87955-501-7)
  • "This is Moscow Speaking, and Other Stories", Collins; Harvill, 1968

External links

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