SAKHAROV is for me and for our friends the personification of the best hopes that we have, the best hopes for Russia. He is a very unique, very extraordinary character. He is a genius as a scientist. He's a hero, a true hero, it's no exaggeration. But at the same time he's a very Russian character -- I wouldn't say typical, but characteristic of the Russian character. His appearance as an activist in our country, in the world community, was a unique development. But at the same time it was the result of the evolution of Russian traditions.
To be more specific, who were Sakharov's ancestors? Where did Sakharov begin as a phenomenon? His ancestors on his father's side were priests, village priests. His great-great-grandfather was the priest in a little city, known as a good, decent, educated man. His grandfather, Ivan Nikolayevich Sakharov, was the first man in the family who was not a man of the church. He became a lawyer in Moscow, and at the beginning of this century he organized a society to oppose capital punishment. He was often in the house of Lev Tolstoy. And -- it is almost an impossible coincidence for us -- the first thing we ever did together, Andrei Dmitrivich and I, was a document opposing capital punishment, in the spring of 1972. He asked our government and the United Nations to forbid capital punishment for all time.
Andrei Dmitrivich's father was a well known physicist; the physics textbook he wrote was very popular. In our generation, we all learned physics in the last year of school from the book of Dmitri Sakharov.
His ancestors on his mother's side were officers. His great-grandfather was a young Greek freedom fighter who went to Russia and became an officer. In the war with Turks he became a general; his name was Sofiano.
One more thing: Dmitri Ivanovich Sakharov, the father of Andrei Dmitrivich, was not only a well known physicist, he was also a good musician. He graduated from one of the best music schools in Moscow, graduated with a gold medal. In the hard days of the civil war, he earned part of his living by giving music lessons.
That was Sakharov's childhood, in the house of humanists, very human, very artistic. His grandmother, whom he very much loves still, read Pushkin to the children. His childhood was a childhood surrounded by music and verses and poetry -- surrounded by very good people, very intelligent people. The traditions of the Russian intelligentsia were put into Sakharov's cradle. So he is a unique phenomenon, but also a very traditional phenomenon in the best sense of the word. This is a tradition of humanism, and of courage too, of duty and a sense of responsibility. But he is very modest, which is why only a few people know the real story of Sakharov.
The story began long before his name was known in Moscow and abroad. After the first test of the H-bomb, after the first test, Sakharov said, "This must also be the last test. The first must be also the last. And let us hope that it will be never used." And his chiefs, the marshals and the generals, were very angry that he would take such a position. Then, in '6l and '62, Sakharov demanded we stop testing atom bombs. We learned about it first from Khrushchev's memoirs published in your country. And when we then asked Sakharov about it, he said "Ah, yes, yes, there was something like that -- I've almost forgotten it."
Then, in the Academy of Sciences, he protested against (Trofim D.) Lysenko, the man who Stalin made the chief of Soviet biology, of Marxist biology, who liquidated genetics in Russia. And Sakharov began his battle against Lysenko at a time when Lysenko was one of Khurshchev's best friends. Khrushchev protected Lysenko after Stalin died.
And Sakharov won the battle against Lysenko. It was in 1964, when one of Lysenko's assistants was a cnadidate for membership in the Academy of Sciences, and Sakharov spoke at the open meeting of the academy against him and demanded that the other members of the academy vote against this man who represented reaction in our science, reaction in our social life. And (firstname?) Ilyechov, the vice minister of foreign affairs now, who was then Khrushchev's ideological boss, asked, "Who is this kid?" And (firstname and ID) Keldysh, the president, answered very loudly, "It is the father of our H-bomb." And it is well known that after Sakharov spoke, that man was not elected to the academy. And Khrushchev was so wild, so angry, he wanted to liquidate the academy. He said the academy was a relic of tsarism and capitalism. This was one of the things Khrushchev was reproached for at the time he was removed from power.
Most people who worked with him, most of his colleagues at the Academy of Sciences, the people who were connected with him when he was working for military purposes, couldn't then and cannot now understand what is the matter with a man who had such privileges. Three times hero of socialist labor! Do you know what that means?
The regulations of that prize say that his monument must be erected in Moscow two times! Because after the second golden star of socialist labor is received by someone, his statue must be erected in his home town. When someone wins a third gold star, a statue must be erected in Moscow. Sakharov was born in Moscow, so under the rules, his statue must be erected twice in Moscow!
He received the highest prizes of the state three times -- the Stalin Prize, the Lenin Prize, the State Prize. And no one knew until the last few years that he gave away most of his prizes, without any publicity, to cancer clinics. He gave away 127,000 rubles, almost 90 percent of all these prizes. I heard this for the first time from his relatives; he never said it himself.
So these people couldn't understand why such a rich man, such a privileged man, as a hero, as a triple hero of socialist labor, as a member of the academy, as a director of an institute, which he was until '68 or even later, who was guaranteed a privileged, quiet life, the opportunity to work as a scientist, why did he risk everything and begin a hopeless fight against the capricious use of power by the state?
And he suffered, he suffered the suffering of every man. I don't know if I can explain it, the soul of Sakharov who suffers for each suffering man. He loves his work, he loves his physics, he can't live without his physics. But when he got a phone call that someone was arrested or someone had been searched, he got up and got a taxi or a trolley -- once he couldn't hire a taxi, but there was a big earthmover there which he hired to go to a man who had been searched.
They can't explain him, and people would say, "Oh, he is very strange, he is not quite normal." No, he is absolutely normal. And others said,"Oh, he is no longer interested in science." It is a lie; he is interested in science. We know how he works when he has a minute, an hour for working as scientist. Two times we were together in Sukhumi (explain), when he worked from early morning until late in the afternoon, and nobody could disturb him. He did physical and mathematical research, and after lunch we could be together.
We (why does Kopelev keep saying We? who else is he talking about??) twice heard his lectures on physics there in Sukhumi. He is a brilliant lecturer. Enthusiastic, and very easy to understand. We are not physicists, but we understood him. And he is very modest, because when he talked about his disoveries, he named everybody in Russia or in America or in Germany who had made such a discovery, from whom he had borrowed a certain opinion or interpretation. And when we asked him "What is your contribution?" he said, "Oh, it's a mosaic. You see, it is a mosaic of stones, which was assembled, for the most part, by other people."
But there was a man who heard the same lectures who understood phyemberssics much better than we both, and he said, "This mosaic is worth a Nobel Prize in physics, because it is a theory of the beginning of the world, of the physical genesis of the whole world."
Q: Why was he not arrested for so many years?
You see, to understand our system and to understand the men who rule our country, one must understand the meaning of nomenklatura. It is a special Russian word. It is the phenomenon of the differing importance of persons, something like what you call a "very important person," you see? In our system, everything is based on nomenklatura -- different strata, different ranks. It is comparable to the Indian caste system, you see? And a (Soviet) VIP, a truly Very Important Person of the highest strata, of a higher rank -- oh, you don't touch him so lightly.
In Stalin's times it was another thing. Stalin's society was absolutely pyramidal, with Stalin alone at the top, and everything under him vulnerable. Nobody could be sure that he wouldn't be arrested tomorrow, and killed the day after tomorrow. Now there is a new construction. It is still pyramidal, but not so sharp-edged, and more differentiated into various strata. The higher ranks, the higher strata, are almost above the rules and above the laws. And Sakharov was an international Very Important Person. And so he is classified in our nomenklatura. So they endured Sakharov's criticism. They tried to scare him, they threatened him in the worst way -- not him personally, but his relatives, his grandchildren, his friends. He was scared in brutal form. Once, for example, two men came to his flat who called themselves Palestinian, who said that if he didn't stop his anti- Palestinian propaganda they would kill him. Or kill his grandchildren.
But for a long time they did not dare use other means against him. What happened last year, when they arrested him and exiled him to Gorki, was an act of despair on the part of the government. It is an example of how one man -- one very ill, very weak man, who has already had two heart seizures -- a very modest man, a very calm man -- can be stronger than this superpower, with all its millions of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of policemen and millions of party members, with a whole apparatus of mass media. And he is stronger that this system of might.
So it was an act of despair that they arrested him and put him in Gorki. And it is only a little example of the whole relationship of forces that they use a detachment of policemen to watch Sakharov. A whole detachment of policemen, a special unit living in a special apartment just opposite his. And one policeman sits before his doorday and night and nobody can come in without permission. And there is a special radio-jamming station for his flat, so he can't listen to the radio. When he wants to listen to the Voice of America or the BC he must go with his little radio and walk in the park. And he is followed by agents. Once they lost him: The park is big and he was with his wife, and the agents lost them. And after 20 minutes or a half an hour, there came a helicopter, searching for them!.
It is absurd, what they have done to him. And he is a great scientist. His life and his work should be the pride of the nation.