Sakharov, Andrei Dmitryevich

(1921–1989)
   The father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, Sakharov became one of the two main dissident targets of the KGB in the 1970s, along with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Sakharov, who served unselfishly as a mentor to political and religious dissidents in the 1970s, received the KGB code name “Asket” (Ascetic) for his involvement in dissident causes. In the 1970s, Sakharov and his wife, Helen Bonner, edited the Chronicle of Current Events, a samizdat publication that chronicled the fate of Soviet dissidents. Sakharov and Bonner had tremendous civil courage. They risked everything to protect the political outcasts of Soviet society.
   In 1975 Sakharov received the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was forbidden to travel to Stockholm to receive. Under KGB Chair Yuri Andropov’s direction, his apartment and dacha were bugged, and agents provocateur were inserted into his inner circle. Andropov at Communist Party Politburo meetings went as far as to describe Sakharov as “public enemy number one.” In early 1980, following Sakharov’s public denunciation of the invasion of Afghanistan, he and his wife were exiled to Gorkiy, a closed provincial city to the east of Moscow. His treatment in Gorkiy was atrocious. His wife was denied access to physicians for her eye disease. But in December 1986 the KGB installed a telephone in Sakharov’s apartment so that Mikhail Gorbachev could call with the news that he could return to Moscow. In the last three years of his life, Sakharov played a critical role in the development of nascent secular political institutions. Until his death he quietly nurtured political reformers and dissidents interested in creating a law-based state.
   Andropov and the KGB’s persecution of Sakharov and his wife discredited the Soviet Union in the eyes of Westerners and many Soviet intellectuals. The dissident movement in the Soviet Union was at most a small and inchoate group and never presented a danger to the Communist Party. The prosecution of Sakharov and a Nobel laureate like Solzhenitsyn did the Soviet Union far more harm than good.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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