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Gyula Obersovszky; Poet Opposed Soviet Rule

March 18, 2001|From Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Gyula Obersovszky, a poet and journalist whose opposition to Soviet rule in 1956 brought him a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison, has died, the state-run news agency MTI reported. He was 74.

Obersovszky died Thursday in a Budapest hospital where he spent the last several weeks with heart ailments.

Born in the southern city of Pecs, Obersovszky worked at various rural newspapers and magazines after World War II.

On the second day of Hungary's 1956 revolt against Soviet rule, Obersovszky founded his Igazsag (Justice) newspaper. When the revolt was repressed in November, he started the underground newspaper Eluenk (Still Alive), which is considered a forerunner of samizdat, the "self-published" underground press influential in former Communist bloc nations.

Together with fellow writers Istvan Eorsi and Istvan Gall, Obersovszky organized demonstrations against the Soviet Red Army.

He was arrested and sentenced to hang, but intervention by leading Western intellectuals, including Bertrand Russell, helped get the sentence commuted to life.

He received an amnesty in 1963, but could begin publishing under his own name only in 1989.

He was one of the founders of the Historical Justice Committee, which, among other things, organized the 1989 symbolic reburial of Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy and anti-Soviet martyrs, signaling the end of Communist rule.

Obersovszky was the author of several volumes of poetry, prose and drama.

He is survived by his five children.

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