Sam Russell’s politically ‘defining moments’

Thursday, 4th August

Sam Russell and Che

Sam Russell in 1962 with Che Guevara in Cuba – the two disagreed over the necessity for armed struggle

• THE title of my father Sam Russell’s memoir, I Saw Democracy Murdered, reviewed July 14 by Nicholas Jacobs, came (courtesy of the-then editor, George Matthews) from the article that Sam wrote for his newspaper, The Morning Star, in November 1973, on the day he arrived back from witnessing, first-hand, the coup in Chile.

He recalls that “This was… where I came into journalism: a vicious and fascist general using military might to sweep away democracy rather than allow a democratic government to gain popular support and, perhaps, consolidate a long-term majority.”

So for him the link back to Franco’s overthrow of the fledging democracy in Spain in 1936 was directly comparable, (The ‘murder of democracy’, July 28).

Whereas although the Soviet invasions that occurred in Hungary in 1956 and in Czecho-slovakia in 1968 (also covered in the book) were, Sam writes, “defining moments” for him politically, in the 1950s he was deemed “a stooge by some because of my reporting from Hungary and in 1968 I was denounced as anti-Soviet”.

The latter event “put an end to any idea that a positive, fundamental change in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union might take place”.

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