Censorship in the Soviet Union

Censorship in the Soviet Union

Censorship in the Soviet Union was pervasive and strictly enforced.

Censorship was performed in two main directions:
*State secrets were handled by Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secrets in the Press (also known as Glavlit) was in charge of censoring all publications and broadcasting for state secrets
*Censorship, in accordance with the official ideology and politics of the Communist Party was performed by several organizations:
**Goskomizdat censored all printed matter: fiction, poetry, etc.
**Goskino, in charge of cinema
**Gosteleradio, in charge of radio and television broadcasting
**The First Department in many agencies and institutions, such as the State Statistical Committee (Goskomstat), was responsible for assuring that state secrets and other sensitive information only reached authorized hands.

Destruction of printed matter

Soviet government implemented mass destruction of pre-revolutionary and foreign books and journals from libraries. Only "special collections" ("spetskhran"), accessible by special permit from the KGB, contained old and politically incorrect material.

Soviet books and journals were also removed from libraries according to changes of Soviet history. Often Soviet citizens preferred to destroy politically incorrect publications and photos, because those connected to it were frequently persecuted.

After the arrest of Lavrentiy Beria all subscribers of the second edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia obtained a page to replace the one with "Lavrentiy Beria" article, instead containing Vitus Bering articles.

=Censorship of

Repressed persons were routinely removed not only from texts, but also from photos, posters and paintings.


Translations of foreign publications were often produced in a truncated form, accompanied with extensive corrective footnotes. E.g. in the Russian 1976 translation of Basil Liddell Hart's "History of the Second World War" pre-war purges of Red Army officers, secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, many details of the Winter War, occupation of Baltic states, Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, Allied assistance to the Soviet Union during the war, many other Western Allies' efforts, the Soviet leadership's mistakes and failures, criticism of the Soviet Union and other content were censored out. [Lewis, B. E. (1977). [http://www.jstor.org/view/00385859/ap010090/01a00100/0 Soviet Taboo. Review of "Vtoraya Mirovaya Voina, History of the Second World War" by B. Liddel Gart (Russian translation)] . "Soviet Studies" 29 (4), 603-606.]

Control over information

"Main articles: Printed media in the Soviet Union, Television in the Soviet Union, Radio in the Soviet Union."

All media in the Soviet Union were controlled by the state including television and radio broadcasting, newspaper, magazine and book publishing. This was achieved by state ownership of all production facilities, thus making all those employed in media state employees. This extended to the fine arts including the theater, opera and ballet. Art and music was controlled by ownership of distribution and performance venues.

Censorship was backed in cases where performances did not meet with the favor of the Soviet leadership with newspaper campaigns against offending material and sanctions applied though party controlled professional organizations.

In the case of book publishing a manuscript had to pass censorship and the decision of a state owned publishing house to publish and distribute the book. Books which met with official favor, for example, the collected speeches of Leonid Brezhnev were printed in vast quantities while less favored literary material might be published in limited numbers and not distributed widely. Popular escapist literature such as the popular best-sellers, mysteries and romances which form the bulk of Western publishing was nearly non-existent.

Possession and use of copying machines was tightly controlled in order to hinder production and distribution of samizdat, illegal self-published books and magazines. Possession of even a single samizdat manuscript such as a book by Andrei Sinyavsky was a serious crime which might involve a visit from the KGB. Another outlet for works which did not find favor with the authorities was publishing abroad.

It was the practice of libraries in the Soviet Union to restrict access to back issues of journals and newspapers more than 3 years old.

ee also

*Socialist Realism
*First Department


External links

* [http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/attc.html Attacks on Intelligentsia: Censorship] - from Library of Congress web site
* [http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla64/067-101e.htm Censorship in the Soviet Union and its Cultural and Professional Results for Arts and Art Libraries]
*Lewis, B. E. (1977). [http://www.jstor.org/view/00385859/ap010090/01a00100/0 Soviet Taboo. Review of "Vtoraya Mirovaya Voina, History of the Second World War" by B. Liddel Gart (Russian translation)] . "Soviet Studies" 29 (4), 603-606.

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