The term samizdat, from the Russian sam (myself) and izdat’ (to publish), denotes the clandestine practices of generating, copying, and distributing texts that were otherwise forbidden in the Soviet Union and the former Eastern Bloc. It is also an umbrella term for other forms of unofficial information distribution, including magnitizdat (the duplication of records using tape recorders) and tamizdat (the publication of materials from abroad, or, literally, “over there”). Samizdat was an oppositional political activity since the state persecuted anyone involved in illegal distribution of political or artistic media. Those individuals who received a copy were normally expected to produce and distribute more copies, and thus join the unofficial network of the opposition. Samizdat was particularly widespread in the post-Stalin Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and contributed to the ultimate demise of totalitarianism. Samizdat materials were integral to the early days of glasnost, as numerous “forbidden” texts were published in official media organs. In the 1990s, and especially in the 2000s, samizdat practices have been continued in a modified form on Runet: Russian literary authors use it as a main platform for publication of their works, and oppositional political views are expressed with a larger sense of freedom online.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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