Two months ago, scientists from several nations met at The Hague to protest the Soviet Union's treatment of Andrei Sakharov, the nuclear physicist and prominent dissident who was exiled from Moscow to the closed city of Gorki in January. Last week, the British scientific journal Nature published a letter from Sakharov, replying to statements about him made at the conference. What follows is excerpted from Sakharov's letter:
MY ISOLATION in Gorki is of an entirely different nature than appears from the conference. There is no scientific library opposite my home, to which I might have access. Opposite there is only mud and piles of rubbish.I have no contact with scientists in Gorki, not because there are only secret institutes here, but because I am in a state of almost total isolation, deprived of the possibility of meeting anybody at all apart from my wife and two people from Gorki, who obtained permission for this from the KGB. And one visit from my university colleague, also by permission of the KGB. Any others are kept away by a militiaman, on duty around the clock, one meter from the door.
I don't even get to know about the majority of visitors, and they have great trouble. After some time I merely learn of people who are close to me. Our friend and doctor, who traveled from Leningrad, was not admitted, nor was our 82-year-old aunt from Moscow. They do not even admit my son's fiancee, who has lived with us nearly three years, Liza Alekseeva. The authorities will not allow her out of the country to join the person she loves, she is subjected to persecution, threats of physical and legal reprisals.
To describe my situation, I might add that I have no telephone and it is not possible to make a call from a post office. I am deprived of the medical aid of those doctors who used to treat me; my correspondence is carefully inspected by the KGB and only a fraction of correspondence reached me. In the house where I live there is a personal radio jamming device, which was even in operation before jamming of radio transmissions was resumed in the U.S.S.R.
In July my wife found two KGB agents in the flat. Who had entered through a window and, without the knowledge of the militiamen on duty, rummaged through my papers and erased tape recordings. Illegal entry like this, the purposes of which may be even more dangerous, has happened before. I have not received a reply to a single one of my letters or telegrams to officials. Two months ago I sent a letter to the vice president of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., E. P. Velkihov, and would like to hope for a reply.
The Soviet press, Soviet representatives abroad and some of my Soviet colleagues during foreign missions, in contacts with people in the West who are concerned about my fate, in an attempt to disorganize my defense, assert that I am against detente, have spoken out against SALT and have even permitted the divulgence of state secrets; they also emphasize the mildness of the measures taken against me. My attitude and open way of life and actions are well known and show how absurd these accusations are.
I have never infringed state secrecy, and any talk of this is slander. I regard thermonuclear war as the main danger threatening mankind, and consider that the problem of preventing it takes priority over other international problems; I am in favor of disarmament and a strategic balance, I support the SALT II agreement as a necessary stage in disarmament negotiations. I am against any expansion, against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, but in favor of aid to refugees and the starving throughout the world. I regard as very important an international agreement on refusal to be the first to use nuclear weapons, concluded on the basis of a strategic balance in the field of conventional weapons.
I do not make it my task to give special support to the viewpoint of western governments, or anyone else, but express precisely my own viewpoint on matters causing me anxiety. As for the mildness of the measures taken against me, they are not as severe as the terms of imprisonment lasting many years for my friends and scientists -- prisoners of conscience Sergei Kovalev, Yuri Orlov, Toli Shcharansky, Tanya Velikanova, Viktor Nekipelov -- nor as the fate of those awaiting trial -- Aleksander Lavut, Leonard Ternovsky, Tanya Osipova and many others.
But my banishment, without trial in infringement of all constitutional guarantees, the isolation measures applied, interference of the KGB in my life, are completely illegal and inadmissible as an infringement of my personal rights and as a dangerous precedent of the actions of the authorities, who are casting aside even that pitiful imitation of legality in the persecution of dissidents that they displayed in recent years. Only a court has the right to establish that a law has been infringed and to define the manner of punishment. Any deliberations about culpability and mercy without a trial are inadmissible and against a person's rights.
Therefore, I insist on a public trial, and attach fundamental importance to this.