Sakharov's love of truth and strong belief in the inviolability of the human being, his fight against violence, and brutality, his courageous defence of the freedom of the spirit, his unselfishness and strong humanitarian convictions have turned him into the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, which the world so sorely needs today
-- Citation from the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Award
ANDREI Sakharov, who died of a stroke in December, was a world class scientist, human rights activist and political figure. Dr. Sakharov displayed enormous courage in his efforts on behalf of Soviet political freedom, peace and disarmament. After years of harassment he was finallv banished to the closed city of Gorky because of his opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan. Only after Gorbachev became General Secretary was he allowed to return to Moscow and travel freely around the world.
IN HIS forthcoming book on glasnost and perestroika, Sakharov recounts meetings he had with Reagan and Bush. He tried to persuade Reagan that S.D.I. would be destabilizing, and he tried to convince Bush that the United States should repudiate military doctrines based on the first use of nuclear weapons. On the domestic front, he was elected 10 the Congress of People's Deputies in 1989 and became one of the leaders of the loyal democratic opposition. His legacy will include the removal of Article 6 in the Soviet constitution which gives political supremacy to the Communist Party. And as regards the current regional/ethnic conflicts in the Soviet Union, Sakharov maintained that the only way to reconstitute the Soviet Union on a democratic basis is for it to become a real confederation which different nations voluntarily agree or disagree to join.
TO THE END, ANDRE! Sakharov was the conscience of his nation. And he was appreciated both internationally and at home. Public opinion polls before his death show that he was the most respected political figure in the Soviet Union. As for the world, it has lost, as a Soviet Colleague said, a moral compass.
Simon Rosenbium is the Ottawa Representative of Project Ploughshares.