OSA / Highlights

Perestroika cartoons

In 1989 Oleg Lukianov, a young Moscow freelance artist, sent these cartoons to Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe.

It was the time of perestroika when many people got a chance to listen to Western radio stations without any constraints. As a result, the Radios began to receive large amounts of mail directly from the USSR . Between 1989 and 1992, more then 13,000 letters from all over the former USSR were received by the RFE/RL. The Research Institute assigned a registration number to each letter and filed them. Some were addressed just to the Radios, but many were addressed personally to the editors of the different programs. Among the most popular journalists were Fatima Salkazanova and Inna Svetlova. The latter was the recipient of these cartoons which "speak" for themselves.

Here, it seems necessary to say a few words about the background and personal charisma of Inna Svetlova. Inna Svetlova was the pseudonym used by Molly Riffel-Gordin. She was born in Riga in 1938 into a Jewish family, but grew up in an orphanage having miraculasly escaped the Nazi occupation. She graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography. In 1963 she immigrated to Israel and in 1968 joined the Radio Liberty.

In his book Sparks of Liberty: an Insider's Memoir of Radio Liberty , Gene Sosin recalls that, "During the next twenty-five years, Molly became well-known among Soviet listeners as Inna Svetlova; her programs were among the Radio's most popular, and she regularly received a large amount of fan mail. She told me that in 1992, when she could at last visit Moscow , her greatest thrill came when she was standing in line in front of a food store and chatting. Another woman shopper recognized her voice and shouted in delight, 'You're Inna Svetlova!'"

Besides programs about youth, women and Jewish experience in the beginning of 1990s, she was editing the program "Kontakty" (Contacts). The program was a call-in program for Russian listeners to discuss their concerns about life, social situation, and living standards. In 1997 Inna was shot and killed in the Prague underground on her way to the Radios, and the program was closed down.

Open Society Archives have tried, in vain, to find out what happened to Oleg Lukianov. If you know anything about him, please contact us as archives@ceu.hu


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