Julia Zaks (1937-2014)

This upgraded version of the 1999 Bukovsky Archives website is dedicated to the memory of Julia Zaks. More than anyone else, it was she who transformed the  Central Committee documents surreptitiously photocopied by Vladimir Bukovsky into an accessible and usable online archive.

Julia Borisovna Zaks was born in Moscow in 1937. She defended a doctoral thesis in chemistry (kandidat khimicheskikh nauk) and became a senior researcher at the Plastics Research Institute.

zaks-yulia-1980When Yury Galanskov, Alexander Ginzburg and their two co-defendants were put on trial in January 1968 she was one of those who signed petitions, protesting against their prosecution and against the conditions in which the trial was held — neither the public nor non-Soviet media were admitted to the courtroom. This marked the beginning of Julia’s activities as a dissident.

In 1976 she was a witness for the defence at the trial of her step-brother Andrei Tverdokhlebov (1940-2011). He was being prosecuted for his part in setting up a Russian branch of Amnesty International. Julia herself worked for the Fund to Aid Political Prisoners and their Families, keeping records of those who were held in the notorious Dubrovlag camp system (Mordovia SSR). In 1977 Zaks signed a petition in defence of political prisoners in the USSR; the following year she put her name to the Moscow Helsinki Group’s document (No 58) “Ten Years Ago”, concerning the events of the Prague Spring.

Fined for “sheltering” her brother, Julia was subjected to searches of her apartment and other forms of harassment. In 1979 she emigrated from the Soviet Union and settled in Princeton, USA. There she worked as a research chemist. In 2011 she was diagnosed with cancer and died on 11 July 2014.

(Information from hro.org )