Human Rights, Perestroika, and the End of the Cold War

In This Review

Human Rights, Perestroika, and the End of the Cold War
By Anatoly Adamishin and Richard Schifter
U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2009
356 pp. $24.95
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Few issues during the Cold War were more neuralgic and unproductive in U.S.-Soviet dealings than that of human rights. Yet in the end, when Mikhail Gorbachev and his colleagues moved to transform the relationship, this became one of its most constructive aspects. Adamishin and Schifter were, respectively, the senior Soviet and U.S. negotiators on the issue during the critical years 1987-90. Together, not only did they play instrumental roles in ending Soviet human rights abuses (such as sending political dissidents to psychiatric hospitals, blocking Jewish emigration, repressing political opposition, and denying religious freedom), but in the process they also developed a deep mutual respect. Before they were done, they had moved on to a "new agenda" of humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, including expert exchanges on how to provide housing for the elderly and even "possible U.S. production of prostheses for Soviet soldiers wounded in Afghanistan." As political trends in Russia again cloud the relationship, Adamishin and Schifter show how a civil dialogue can be conducted.