From an October Helsinki Watch report:

One of the most exciting developments of the 1980s in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has been the emergence of independent citizens' peace and ecology movements, coupled with a widening discussion about disarmament, militarism and ecology among the civil rights movements that were launched in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the human rights and other social movements of the Eastern European countries are very different in nature, they all have a common desire to reclaim from the state what is called "civil society" in the languages of these countries, or what might be called "public life" or "community activism" in the West.

The notion of "civil society" implies a space where independent discussion and criticism can grow, where an alternative to the state's monopoly on information and education can thrive, where an effort can be made to restrain the state's arbitrary or arrogant use of power against its own citizens or other countries and, finally, where the rigidity and isolation of the bloc mentality can be challenged. Activists in Eastern Europe have described this process as restoring the citizens as a subject of history, rather than as an object controlled by the state. . . .

These . . . initiatives in the East differ from similar Western movements, mainly because official oppression has inhibited their work and because some major differences in perspective on the link between peace and human rights have grown out of these countries' specific experiences under Soviet oppression. But all of the groups have reached out to their Western counterparts. . . . Were it not for support for these groups by major Western peace organizations, they would have been crushed by state security agencies long ago.