Sergei Kovalev "is a biophysicist who is credited with founding the first human rights organization in the Soviet Union in 1969. His work as an activist eventually got him into trouble with the authorities, and he was arrested and tried in Lithuania in 1974 on charges of "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda."
"He was found guilty and served seven years in labor camps and three years of internal exile.
"Kovalev was allowed to return to Moscow during Perestroika. During that time he participated in a number of human rights initiatives, including the founding of the Russian rights group Memorial, which focuses on the rehabilitation of victims of severe political persecution during the Soviet era.
"He subsequently delved into politics, serving as a member of the Presidential Council in 1992. After being elected to the State Duma in 1993, and served as its human rights commissioner before being dismissed in 1995 due to his staunch criticism of the Chechen war.
"He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on two occasions, in 1995 and 1996. Today Kovalev continues his activism, making the headlines as recently as November, when he was detained for participating in a demonstration against fascism."