ARSENY BORISOVICH ROGINSKY
(March 30, 1946 - December 18, 2017)
Arseny's father was an engineer, who worked at the "Electrosila" plant in Leningrad. In 1938 he was repressed and after his release from camp he was sent into "life-long exile" to the North (to the town of Velsk in the Arkhangel region), where Arseny Roginsky was born. In 1951 Ber (Boris) Roginsky was re-arrested and died in custody.
In 1956 the family returned to Leningrad after the posthumous rehabilitation of his father. From 1962-1968 Arseny Roginsky was a student at the Department of History and Philology of the University of Tartu, a student of Professor Yuri Lotman. Since 1965 he has published articles and documents on the history of the Russian liberation movement of the 19th century. Later he found and published some important documents, concerning the Narodnaya volya period in the Russian revolutionary movement.
From1968 to1981 he worked in Leningrad as a bibliographer at the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library and taught in evening schools.
Gradually, the scope of Arseny Roginsky's scientific interests expanded, and its centre of gravity shifted towards the history of Russia and the USSR in the 20th century. This was aided by his contacts while still a student in Tartu with future Muscovite dissidents and human rights activists. The motto of Roginsky's and his colleagues' work in the 1970s can be summed up in his own words: "the need to recover historical memory" and "recreate an independent historical science". He and his friends attempted to realize this idea by founding the first samizdat historical collection, entitled Remembrance, which Arseny Roginsky compiled and edited between 1975 and 1981. "The editors consider it their duty to save from oblivion all historical facts and names which are now doomed to perish, to disappear, and above all the names of the dead, the hounded, the slandered, the fates of families broken or indiscriminately destroyed; and also the names of those who executed, defamed, denounced <...> the most important thing for us here is to retrieve historical fact from oblivion, rescue it from oblivion and put it into circulation – both scientific and public" (from the preface to the first issue of the collection "Remembrance").
On February 4, 1977, Roginsky's apartment was searched for the first time. On March 6, 1979, after a second search, at the demand of the KGB Roginsky was fired from the school and stripped of his right to teach. In June 1981 Roginsky was deprived of access to the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library and debarred from the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library "for publishing documents in a foreign anti-Soviet publication".
On August 12, 1981 Arseniy Roginsky was arrested on charges of "falsification of documents" (referring to the so-called "reference" - letters from official academic institutions, without which a researcher in Soviet times could not gain access to archival materials; Roginsky was accused of submitting references with forged signatures to the archives). He refused to give any clarification to the investigation on this matter, stating that he considered the very practice of restricting access to historical documents to be unlawful; he upheld the same point of view in his final statement at his trial. On December 4, 1981 the People's Court of the Oktyabrsky District of Leningrad sentenced Roginsky to the maximum term of imprisonment under this article of four years. (Completely rehabilitated in 1992.)
After his release (August 1985) and changes in the political situation in the country, he resumed his scientific work. He took a leading part in preparing for publication the collections "Memoirs of the Tolstoy peasants. 1910s-1930s" (1989), "Links" (1990, 1992) etc.
In 1990-1993 he was an expert of the Committee of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation for Human Rights, in 1991-1993 - an expert of the Supreme Council for the Transfer of the CPSU and KGB Archives to State Storage and the Russian Federation Supreme Council for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repressions. In 1992, was an expert of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the "CPSU case".
In 1988-1989, was one of the founders of the "Memorial" society, and directed its research programs. In 1990, on Arseny Roginsky's initiative, the Scientific-Information and Educational Centre "Memorial" was founded (and in 1996 Roginsky was elected its president). He was also a Member of the Board of the Russian Memorial Society and Chairman of the Board of the International Memorial Society.