AMBIGUITY OF INFORMATION - EDITORS
The founding father of samizdat bibliography, Aleksandr Suetnov, pointed out that practically every formal aspect of samizdat editions – title, periodicity, imprint, etc. – is liable to be variable and difficult to establish (SUET 246).
Defining who the editors are and what role they played can be quite tricky. Most editions of classic Soviet samizdat did not list editors’ names for reasons of security. The journal Evrei v SSSR (Jews in the USSR, no. 1-20, 1972-79) was an exception, advertising its editors’ names clearly. However, this journal illustrates the difficulties that may arise. A large and fluid group of names appears for editors (sostaviteli) on the title page of reprints. These title pages include names of people after they have left the USSR for Israel. The role of editors who emigrated probably became more honorary and symbolic than practical for those issues. But how would one describe that role, and why in fact were the names still featured? The capacious nature of the list also raises questions about individuals’ actual roles. Vladimir Lazaris described a much smaller group of editors for different stages of the journal’s life (LAZA 99-109). Iulii Kosharovskii cited a number of people who “participated” in production of the edition, although the distinction between the role of “main editors” (glavnye redaktory) and other types of participation is not always clear. We may have difficulty cutting down the list of names to that core of lead editors. However, thanks to Kosharovskii’s interview with Viktor Brailovskii, we can add to the list of editors’ names that of Irina Brailovskaia (KOSH 2: 357). Her work as editor in chief of the final issues was confirmed by the couple in my interview with them in Israel in 2007. Her name did not appear initially on the edition because husband Viktor Brailovskii wanted to protect her.
Thus, the names featured on editions might not be the only or most reliable indication of who produced an edition. However, in the cases where copies of original samizdat documents exist for consultation, they should be included in bibliographic information. See the notes for MITIN ZHURNAL for a special case of obfuscation of editors' identities.
The issues that might influence whether one advertises oneself as editor of a samizdat edition are complex. Initially, a person might have believed that she should (or should not) put her name on an edition because she knew or thought herself to be on the radar of security services (chelovek, kotoryi “svetit”). I say should or should not - if she is on the radar, the logic could depend on avoiding further grounds for incrimination, but it could also be that if she is already under suspicion, one more suspicious activity makes no difference. A person might want to show solidarity with a particular group, even if he had left the country and did not directly participate in an edition. Putting editors’ names on the front exposed people in the USSR to a certain amount of risk, although it also helped assert the legality of the edition.
The problem with establishing editors in retrospect may have to do with the fact that people interpret the historical record differently, for whatever reason. Aleksandr Suetnov listed himself as an editor of Zerkalo (The Mirror, no. 1-4, 1981), although his name did not appear in Kushnir’s authoritative encyclopedia of rock samizdat. In many cases we just do not know without talking to the people involved. The goal in the database is to record information from archived copies of original samizdat when they exist and to note additional or competing information as far as this is possible.