Samizdat Exhibition

"Road to Freedom"

Martynas Mazvydas National Library, October 18th - November 8th

Straightforward articles about crimes and human rights abuses that the Soviet government tried to hide as much as they could, while at the same time expressing a relentlessly strong sense of hope…

All this (and much more) can be seen at the exhibition

The Road to Freedom:

Independent publications in occupied Lithuania and abroad

One of the most important elements in defending the human rights movement was providing information to the Western public about the arrests of Soviet political prisoners and the struggle for freedom, by means of independent publications such as newspapers, documents, photographs and videos.

The exhibition “The Road to Freedom. Independent publications in occupied Lithuania and abroad“ provides the public with the opportunity to get acquainted with such self-published publications (in Russian: „samizdat“) and to see previously unseen independent press models from the time of the Soviet Union.

Part of the exhibits of the exhibition were collected by Petras Vaitiekūnas (b. 1953) - a Lithuanian physicist who actively participated in the activities of the Sąjūdis, one of the Signatories of the Act of Independence of the Republic of Lithuania on March 11, 1991. He later became a member of the Lithuanian Parliament, was a diplomat and ambassador to several countries and also a Minister of Foreign Affairs (2004–2006). During the late 1980s, P. Vaitiekūnas organized the printing of hundreds of independent publications from all over the USSR, from as far away as South Sakhalin.

The exhibition consists of two parts. The first part is devoted to the production of self-published publications (samizdat) created by dissidents as well as the way in which they reached the West – often through smuggling –, and how they subsequently found their way back into the country in much larger quantities. 

The following exhibits related to samizdat can be seen in the exhibition:

  • Copies of manuscripts made on authentic, very thin paper (“kalka”) with layers of carbon paper to increase the number of copies.
  • Samizdat examples, e.g. an original copy of the “Chronicle of Current Events“ (in Russian: Хроника текущих событий);
  • Ways in which independent publications and other documents by dissidents were smuggled out of the USSR and how they found their way back into the country.

The second part of the exhibition provides an opportunity to see previously unseen independent print layouts which were preserved by Petras Vaitiekūnas. Here you can see some examples of independent newspapers:

  • The layout, production and metal printing board of the newspaper "Ainu" published by the Yuzhno-Sakhalin People's Front;
  • Original posters of the election campaign of Lithuanian opposition leaders;
  • Special edition newspapers issued to commemorate February 16, the first Day of Independence of Lithuania;
  • Original layouts of newspapers from Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia as well as from various Lithuanian cities, with cartoons, photographs and intriguing articles.

Exhibition Opening

The Andrei Sakharov Research Center contributes to the development of a pluralist and democratic society in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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Andrei Sakharov Research Center
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44249 Kaunas, Lithuania


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