of Andrei Sakharov
Born in Moscow to liberal intellectual family.
Completes physics studies at Moscow University.
Recruited for weapons work and develops Soviet hydrogen bomb.
Concern about radioactive hazards of nuclear testing starts Sakharov
down the path of disagreeing with the Soviet leadership in writing,
with his name attached.
Joins group of Soviet intellectuals who write appeal to Soviet
leader Leonid Brezhnev warning against the rehabilitation of Stalin.
Publishes Reflection on Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual
Freedom in New York Times, strongly criticizing Soviet totalitarianism,
and calling for an end to the Cold War. This does not make him
popular with his government.
Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, but not allowed by Soviet government
to attend award ceremony. His wife and co-activist Elena Bonner
attends for him and delivers his acceptance speech. After this,
a government vilification campaign begins, wherein Sakharov is
called a "Judas" and a "laboratory rat of the West".
Knowing that Sakharov will protest the planned Soviet military
intervention into the Afghanistan civil war, Brezhnev has Sakharov
summarily exiled to the closed city of Gorky, 250 miles east of
Moscow, where no Western diplomats or journalists can contact
Sakharov is forcibly hospitalized after a protracted hunger strike.
Despite being exiled to Gorky, Sakharov's continued writings somehow
manage to make their way to the West, such as The Danger of
Thermonuclear War published in Foreign Affairs.
Still confined to Gorky, Sakharov and Bonner wage more hunger
strikes over treatment for Bonner's medical problems. On the eve
of the Geneva summit, new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev allows
Bonner to travel to America for heart bypass surgery.
26, 1986 Soviet nuclear reactor at Chernobyl runs out
of control and explodes during a botched test of a new cooling
mechanism, causing the worst nuclear reactor disaster in world
history so far. 30 deaths from burns and radiation exposure occur
within the first week of the accident, and the land around the
reactor for a 30 km radius is deemed uninhabitable due to radiation.
16, 1986 Gorbachev has a telephone installed by KGB in
Sakharov's Gorky apartment so that Gorbachev can telephone Sakharov
personally with the news that Sakharov and Bonner are free from
exile to come back to Moscow, where Sakharov is to do "patriotic
work", namely to help the Soviet goverment cope with the
dangerous aftermath of Chernobyl.
14, 1989 After a hard day at work advocating political
pluralism and economic reform in the Soviet Congress of Peoples
Deputies, Andrei Sakharov collapses at home and dies. He is buried
as a national hero.
1991 Soviet state comes to an inglorious end on live
worldwide television as putsch organized to topple Gorbachev is
foiled by massive public nonviolent resistance, leading to the
end of the USSR and the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.