Andrei Sakharov

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Andrei Sakharov

He notes that: "From 1970 onwards the defence of human rights and the defence of the victims of political trials became all-important to me. Together with (Valery) Chalidze and Tverdokhlebov, and later with (Igor) Shafarevich and Podyapolski I shared in running the Committee for Human Rights, thus making my position quite clear. I feel bound to recall the fate of two of them. In April 1976 Andrei Tverdokhlebov was sentenced to five years exile for his social work, and in March Grigori Podyapolski was lost to us through his tragic premature death.

"As early as 1950, Tamm and I were the joint originators of a Soviet work on controlled thermonuclear reaction (the thermonuclear reaction of hydrogen isotopes either for the production of electrical energy or for the production of fuel for nuclear reactors). Great advances have now been made in this work. A year later, at my initiative, experiments were started on the construction of implosive magnetic generators (devices by which chemical or nuclear reactions are transformed into magnetic field energy). In 1964 we attained a record with a magnetic field of 25 million gauss.

"From July 1968, when my article was published abroad, I was removed from top-secret work and "relieved" of my privileges in the Soviet "Nomenclatura" (the privileged class at the top of the system). Since the summer of 1969 I have again been working at the Lebedev Institute where I studied, as an assistant, for my doctorate from 1945 to 1947 and began my scientific work. My present work concerns the problems connected with the theory of elementary particles, the theory of gravitation and cosmology and I shall be glad if I can manage to make some contribution to these important branches of science.

"Nevertheless, it is the social issues which unremittingly demand that I make a responsible personal effort and which also lay increasing claims on my physical and mental powers. For me, the moral difficulties lie in the continual pressure brought to bear on my friends and immediate family, pressure which is not directed against me personally but which at the same time is all around me. I have written about this on many occasions but, sad to report, all that I said before applies equally today. I am no professional politician - which is perhaps why I am continually obsessed by the question as to the purpose served by the work done by my friends and myself, as well as its final result. I tend to believe that only moral criteria, coupled with mental objectivity, can serve as a sort of compass in the cross-currents of these complex problems.

"I have stated in writing many times already that I intend to refrain from making any concrete political prognoses. There is a large measure of tragedy in my life at present. The sentences lately passed on my close friends - Sergei Kovalev (who just exactly at the time of the Nobel Prize ceremony was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and three years' exile) and Andrei Tverdokhlebov - represent the clearest and most unequivocal evidence of this. Yet, even so, both now and for always, I intend to hold fast to my belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit.

"After receiving the prize, Sakharov continued to work for human rights and to make statements to the West through Western correspondents in Moscow. Early in 1980, after he had denounced the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he was exiled to Gorky. In 1984, Elena Bonner joined him, also under sentence of exile. Isolated from family and friends, they continued to be persecuted by the KGB. Sakharov resorted to hunger strikes to secure medical treatment for Bonner, who was finally given permission to leave the Soviet Union for heart surgery in 1985. After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power with a policy of liberalisation, they were freed and allowed to return to Moscow in 1986. Despite the measure of freedom now possible, which enabled him to take up a political role as an elected member of the Congress of the People's Deputies, Sakharov was critical of Gorbachev, insisting that the reforms should go much further. He died in Moscow on December 14, 1989." [2]

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References

  1. All Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Nobel Prize, accessed September 17, 2007.
  2. Andrei Sakharov, Nobel Prize, accessed September 17, 2007.
  3. Board of Sponsors, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, accessed September 1, 2009.