Andrei Sakharov (1921–1989), a brilliant physicist and the principal designer of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, later became a human rights activist and--as a result--a source of profound irritation to the Kremlin. An outspoken advocate of human rights, civil liberties, and reform in the Soviet Union as well as rapprochement with noncommunist nations, Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1975. This collection of KGB files on Sakharov became available during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency. The documents, prepared for publication by the Andrei Sakharov Archive, reveal the untold story of KGB surveillance of Sakharov from 1968 until his death in 1989 and of the regime’s efforts to intimidate and silence him.

Sakharov earned a doctorate at the age of 26, and was admitted as a full member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences at age 32. He worked on developing the Soviet Union's first hydrogen bomb and also devised the theoretical basis for controlled thermonuclear fusion. In 1961, Sakharov opposed Khrushchev's plan to test a 100-megaton hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere, fearing the effects of widespread radioactive fallout. In 1968, he published in the West his essay "Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom," in which he called for nuclear arms reductions, predicted and endorsed the eventual integration of communist and capitalist systems in a form of democratic socialism, and criticized the increasing repression of Soviet dissidents. Speaking out against Soviet political repression at home and hostile relations abroad, he was isolated and became the target of official censure and harassment. In 1980, the Soviet government stripped him of his honors and exiled him to the closed city of Gorky. In 1986, the Gorbachev government released Sakharov from exile. Elected to the Congress of People's Deputies in 1989, Sakharov had his honors restored and saw many of the causes for which he had fought and suffered become official policy of Perestroika.

This site was prepared with help from Libby Kovach, Jackie Zubrzycki, Steve Colca, and Lindsay Toland.

Please send your questions and comments to Vadim A. Staklo