Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Footprints of the Ministry of Truth - Surveillance and Thought Control in the Soviet Union

Chair: Ira Jänis-Isokangas (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Discussant: Epp Lauk (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
Epp Lauk (University of Jyväskylä, Finland): How  the Three Tails of Devilry Worked Together: the Interplay of the KGB, Communist Party and Censorship System in Governing the Estonian Media"
Arūnas Streikus (Vilnius University, Lithuania): Political Censorship in Lithuania and Latvia during the Late Socialism as the Agent of Soviet Baltic Discourse
Takehiro Okabe (University of Helsinki, Finland): The Bridge of Finland over Soviet Karelia?: Estonian-Karelian Scholarly Interaction in the late Stalinist Years
Rosario Napolitano (University of Naples L'Orientale, Italy): Censorship and "Bad Censors": An Analysis of the Latvian Glavlit in the 70s and 80s

The forms of censorship in the Soviet Union were different and it was not just some sort of power coming from above, but a real "net" wrapped around every aspect of society This panel will analyze the role of censorship (in different fields) dictate by Moscow and how it influenced the social and cultural life of one specific geographic area, the Baltic States. Epp Lauk's paper will focus the role of the surveillance machinery over the mass media in the former Soviet Union: it consisted of the Communist Party authorities and KGB as the “brain” of the system, and the state censorship administration (GLVALIT) as its “executive hand”. The paper analyses the interplay of these three actors in cases of dissent or deviation of the “party line” by journalists and media outlets. Arūnas Streikus compares controlling process of public discourse in Latvia and Lithuania during the last decades of Soviet rule. It contains an attempt to detect some shared characteristics of public space in the so called Soviet West as well as to delineate disparity in limits of local specifics between two republics. Reflections on the matter are based on extensive involvement of archival documents, which reflect activities of censorship institutions. Takehiro Okabe analyses the intellectual interaction between Soviet Karelia and Estonia in the late Stalinist years. Main attention goes to folklorists and linguists,who discussed Finno-Ugric epics and languages. The aim is to understand to what extent discussing national symbols was allowed in that time in Soviet Finnic world. Rosario Napolitano's paper analyses the results of some researches made at the State Archive of Riga, in wich I focused on some cases, from the 70s untile the middle of 80s in which censors of the latvian Glavlit, the main censorship body of Soviet Union, made some mistakes and omissions during their work. These mistakes sometimes resulted in them being fired from their job. The proof of this confusion explains, moreover, that the soviet censorship system was slowly coming to an end.