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Esperanto Activist Killed by Russian Psychiatry

Updated on September 29, 2009

As I wrote in an earlier hub -

- Esperanto has sometimes been regarded as a dangerous language, and Esperantists as suspect persons, by people from Hitler and Stalin to some present day Obama haters.

I might have added Post-Sovietic Russia.

Just a few days ago, 24 of September 2009, there passed away in Russia a certain Yuri Davydov. He was too young to die - born in 1955.

Yuri Davydov was an active Esperantist, and among other things helped to organize the Workers Esperantists' congress in Moscow in 2000. That was possible only after the fall of "Communism". The only Esperanto organization who was not welcome in most "Communist" countries before 1989 was the Workers' Esperantists...

However, already during the final years of the Soviet Union, Davydov started thinking about social reforms, and he created a "happiness theory" founded on inherited thoughts from a number of thinkers lika Pythagoras, Zamenhof and Lenin.

The validity of his theory may be disputable, but free thought is no crime.

Unless you live in a country where thoughtcrime is a reality.

Davydov did.

He collected a number of disciples and founded a community named Portos, in which his theory was practiced. Economically it fared relatively well, and could give some money to invalids, war veterans etc. The rules for those who wished to join were rather strict: no booze, no drugs, no tobacco, nothing harmful to health; it was compulsory to write poetry every day, to study Esperanto, to practice karate and some other things.

The authorities became suspicious, and towards the end of 2000, the Moscow department of Portos was attacked. Davydov and some other people were arrested. Two girls - Irina Derguzova and Tatyana Lomakina - were imprisoned for four and five years, respectively. In spite of the conditions in jail, they were at relatively good health when freed.

Not Davydov. He and another man, Yevgeni Privalov, were said to need psychiatric "help", and received some. Davydov was heavily treated with psychopharmacological drugs, and infected with AIDS.

In 2006, he was freed from the hospital, but his immune system was destroyed beyond repair, and when he got pneumonia this month - September 2009 - it killed him.

His organization still survives, though, with communities close to Moscow, Russia, and Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Source: a letter from Nikolai Gudskov, Russia

For those of you who can read Russian (I can't), there is an article about Davydov at

and one about Portos at


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    • profile image

      Juhi 3 years ago

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    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 6 years ago from Canada

      Ah, okay, very good. I stand corrected. It was a very ethnically confused region.

    • Gunnar Gällmo profile image

      Gunnar Gällmo 6 years ago from Stockholm

      Zamenhof wasn't Polish; he said that if he should have any ethnic label at all (which he didn't really like) he was a "Russian Jew" ("rusa hebreo"). Polish was his third language, after Russian and Yiddish, and Bialystok was not included in the Russian part of Poland. (Warsaw was, but he moved there with his parents only when he was fourteen years old.)

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 6 years ago from Canada

      L.L. Zamenhof began Esperanto -- but he was Polish, a part of Poland taken over by Russia at the time. His father was the Censor for publications, and spoke several languages as part of his duties, so the son learned several languages too. It was a bad time where even a cookbook telling people to "cook over a free fire" might be called a suspicious phrase, and censored. Mostly the Czarist authorities were opposed to ethnic separatism.

    • profile image

      Neil Blonstein 7 years ago

      Sometimes I feel strange. I found an article touching this subject at Libera Folio, one of the longest running Esperanto websites. They also suspect that the crime was being eccentric.

    • Gunnar Gällmo profile image

      Gunnar Gällmo 8 years ago from Stockholm

    • Gunnar Gällmo profile image

      Gunnar Gällmo 8 years ago from Stockholm

      Please do! As a matter of fact, Esperanto was initiated by an idealistic son of a censor in Czarist Russia - so of course, friends of censorship don't like it...

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      Cindy Mckee 8 years ago

      And this happened in modern-day Russia! It seems as though they were so horribly persecuted just because they are seen as an eccentric group - was there really no other reason the Russian authorities acted, other than eccentricity? I'm going to try to find some other information about Portos...thank you for this article! This needs to be brought into the light of day.