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British human rights organisations and Soviet dissent, 1965-1985

Hurst, Mark (2014) British human rights organisations and Soviet dissent, 1965-1985. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86490) (KAR id:86490)

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This thesis develops the literature on the role of human rights in the Cold War by highlighting the impact of British human rights organisations in the response to Soviet dissent. It argues that human rights groups played an essential role in compiling and distributing information on Soviet dissenters to all levels of British society. These groups all held empiricism at the centre of their campaigns, utilising an array of information to support their activism. This approach entailed the development of relationships between groups, which led to a network of activists, all working towards supporting Soviet dissenters.

The first chapter of this thesis assesses Amnesty International's output on Soviet dissenters, focusing on the groups publications. Amnesty's translation of the samizdat journal The Chronicle of Current Events and its own publication Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR were influential on journalists and other human rights groups. The high level of research produced by Amnesty in this period was in deep contrast to its overstretched research department, who are considered in depth.

The second chapter focuses on groups formed to respond to the Soviet political abuse of psychiatry as a way to suppress political dissidents. It explores how groups such as the Working Group on the Internment of Dissenters in Mental Hospitals and the Campaign Against Psychiatric

Abuse campaigned on behalf of dissidents, and demonstrates the influence that they had on official groups such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The final chapter examines the response to religious persecution in the Soviet Union, focusing on the demonstrative campaigning of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry (the 35's) and the more academic Keston College. This chapter demonstrates how despite the outward differences between these two organisations, they held much in common such as a reliance on an empirical method in their campaigns.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86490
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: human rights, Soviet Union, dissent
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:54 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2022 01:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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