Dancing on Thin Ice: Travails of a Russian Dissenter


Product Details

$29.95  $27.55
Doppelhouse Press
Publish Date
July 31, 2018
5.6 X 8.6 X 1.2 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Arkady Polishchuk (1935-2020) was a Russian Jewish dissident and former journalist who authored articles, essays, and satires for leading Russian periodicals, as well as two books about Africa. He also wrote two books in English, Dancing on Thin Ice (DoppelHouse 2018) and While I Was Burying Comrade Stalin (MacFarland 2020). His writings appeared in many publications in Europe and the United States including the National Review, Chicago Tribune, and Witness. Polishchuk was a broadcaster and correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1985-2008 in Washington, D.C.; Munich; and Prague. For many years in Soviet Russian and later in the West, Polishchuk was heavily involved in human rights, including as a testimonial speaker for Amnesty International and working on behalf of 30,000 Russian Evangelicals trying to escape decades of persecution under communist rule. In 1981 he was awarded the British McWhirter Human Rights Foundation Award and, throughout his life, received numerous travel grants for his human rights activities as well as being covered by Life, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Nightline with Ted Koppel, and international publications. Polishchuk became a dissident in 1973 and spent several weeks in prison as part of a four-year campaign in support of Jewish and Christian emigration. When the Christian Emigration Movement was born after the Helsinki Accords in 1975, Polishchuk concentrated his human rights efforts on helping persecuted Christians - which included the dangerous smuggling of witness testimonies out of the USSR. Over several years he successfully petitioned for the right of Russian Evangelicals to emigrate and traveled to many European countries, to Canada and across the United States on their behalf. For two years he was the managing editor and spokesman for Door of Hope International, an Evangelical human rights organization focusing on religious persecution. He held an advanced degree in Philosophy from Moscow University. Some of his experiences as a dissident in Moscow were covered internationally, for example, in this article by the New York Times from October 20, 1976.


Arkady Polishchuk's memoir of life as a Russian dissident uses an icepick forged of sardonic wit and personal experience to pierce deep into the hide of the Soviet system. [...] The book takes a sharp look at the dysfunction of the [U.S.S.R.], offering details that no one in the West could imagine. [...] An important memoir by a fearless man.
- Susan Waggoner, Foreword Reviews
Polishchuk describes much of his life with a chuckle. He says that the book is, in part, meant to convey the absurdity of the Soviet experience. But he acknowledges the deadly serious stakes dissidents and religious groups -- like the evangelical Christian community he came to sympathize with -- faced under the Communist Party. [...] Polischuk became a vocal advocate for evangelical Christians in Russia through his career as a journalist and lecturer working with Radio Free Europe and Amnesty International.
- Washington Jewish Week
The author has a tenacious eye, magnificent sense of humor, and deep understanding of the realities of Russian life under the rule of both Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. Even for me, who was an active participant in the dissident and Zionist movements in the USSR of those years, many of the events described here by the author were novelties. Dancing on Thin Ice is exciting and mentally stimulating reading.
- Eduard Kuznetsov, author of Prison Diaries
Skillfully written and a page-turner, Arkady Polishchuk's memoir is about making a free man out of a slave and about the price an individual is prepared to pay for his freedom in today's tumultuous world. It helps to understand the processes taking place in modern Russia and its internal and external policies, including the aggressive attempts being made to revive Russia as a superpower. As an elite Russian journalist, Arkady Polishchuk rebelled and, despite facing formidable forces of the state secret police, found himself fighting the brutal regime. Among unique factors of his life were working with Soviet spies, attending anti-Semitic trials and at the same time collecting information on the persecution of Russian Evangelicals. Polishchuk's is a unique story, a Russian Jew dedicating his life to help his Russian Evangelical friends, and even working for a time with an American Evangelical mission.
- Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, candidate for the Russian Presidency, 2008, and author of To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter
The books that really stimulated thinking and kept me up at night countless times are those I take personally. [...] I recognize the settings, I commiserate with people, I know how horrible it is to feel stuck there. I could not sleep after The Russians by Hedrick Smith; Putin's Russia by Anna Politkovskaya; and Dancing On Thin Ice by Arkady Polishchuk [...] The depressing surroundings of Polishchuk's life might be hard to believe for a Western person--but it is re-counted with such journalistic vision and style that reading the book is both enlightening and entertaining.
- Fiona Citkin, Thrive Global
How did a Soviet Jewish dissident, raised an atheist communist, come to be a powerful voice on behalf of Russian evangelical Christians? [...] It's a true story of Cold War bravery and danger.
- Howard Lovy, Publishers Weekly
Dancing on Thin Ice is a book by a dissident about dissidents. Arkady Polishchuk helped to break the silence of Western politicians and recognize the plight of persecuted Evangelicals in the Soviet Union. The memoir tells us about past events, about the KGB use of media outlets, but its subject certainly does not belong to history. It remains relevant today, while dissidents in different countries continue their struggle for human rights and liberty, their own and ours.
- Dr. Yuri Yarim-Agaev, Scientist and human rights activist; Member, Moscow Helsinki Group; President, Center for Democracy in the USSR