After the fall of the Soviet Union, Bukovsky, a former dissident from Russia, decided to attempt the impossible: to convene a trial that would sue not the individuals as was the case in Nuremberg but rather the system of the communist regime. “For me, it seems like we have a moral responsibility to humanity,” he remarks in the documentary Le Nuremberg du communisme.
When Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost were introduced in the mid-1980s, people started to believe that the crimes of the communist regime would be punished someday and that justice would prevail. With communism on its way out, anything seemed possible. But sooner or later, that hope vanished from their minds. Historians have noted that while the Soviet regime had failed, the KGB were still active and the former nomenklatura, the communist-era elite, still retained power and influence, making it impossible to achieve justice for the victims of Soviet communism. Vladimir Bukovsky wanted to force the country to deal with its communist past and prevent the regime from gaining power again.
Born 1942, Bukovsky was a prominent activist whose fight against the Soviet regime earned him a total of twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric prison hospitals. In 1976 he was released in a swap for the imprisoned General Secretary of the Communist Party of Chile at the Zürich airport. Once free, Bukovsky felt like he had experienced a second birth. He settled in Cambridge and finished his studies in biology, but he never stopped fighting to free the Soviet Union from the grip of communism.