Exiled dissident Andrei Sakharov reportedly lives in the Gorki regional election district of Soviet KGB chief Yuri Andropov, with a police station next door to intercept every visitor and a post and telegraph office nearby from which he will never receive mail nor be able to make a phone call.
When Sakharov, 58, leaves his four-room, ground-floor flat, he is followed by three plainclothes police officers. He has no phone and must report every 10 days to the police for a review of his conduct.
But the Nobel Peach laureate is said to be "relaxed, in good humor and staying calm" in the closed city 250 miles from Moscow where he and his wife, Elena Bonner, were sent last Tuesday by the secret police. The exiling of Sakharov further damaged East-West relations in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Sakharovs keep up with foreign news by a shortwave radio they were allowed to bring.
This picture of Sakharov in exile was provided today by a Gorki man Mark Kovner, who visited the couple the morning after they arrived in the city, which is closed to foreigners.
Kovner, 48, a theoretical physicist who met Sakharov outside the closed political trial of Alexander Ginzburg n July 1978, was interviewed today in Sakharov's old apartment in Moscow. Kovner said that despite the isolation, the police surveillance, the round-the-clock presence of their flat of a woman assumed to be a police agent, and the lack of wholesome food in Gorki stores, Sakharov is "enjoying his surrondings. He likes Gorkyites."
Kovner, a Jew refused permission to emigrate at least until 1985, although his wife and family live in Israel, said the banishment order forbids Sakharov "any contact with foreigners, including letters or phone calls, as well as contacts with 'criminal elements,'" obviously meant to label dissidents.
He said a state prosecutor told Sakharov on Tuesday this also applied to contact with the physicist's two stepchildren who live in the United States. He has been restricted to the Gorki city limits. Gorki, with about 1.2 million population, is closed to foreigners because a military aircraft factory is there.
The police station is across a narrow alley from the new, 12-story building where the Sakharovs are sequestered. Its windows look in the windows of two rooms the couple use as bedroom and study. A third small room is occupied by the unasked-for woman companion, who announced to the couple she was their "housekeeper."
The low-ceilinged flat's fourth room, the largest, is used a living room. Kovner said the apartment is well-furnished and came equipped with a refrigerator already stocked with food, for which the Sahkarovs were charged.
Kovner said uniformed police from the station intercept all visitors who leave the apartment, and take them for questioning and documentation at the station. He said a number of Soviets have come to the activist's home despite his exile and savage denunciation by the Soviet press. Sakharov is accused of telling foreign agents, chiefly Americans, secrets he learned during his years as mastermind of the Soviet hydrogen bomb program in the 1950s and 60s before he took up the cause of individual freedoms in the Soviet Union. He has become the most well-known Soviet dissident, and his cause was defended by President Carter in personal statements and by others.
Kovner said three young men, who he believed, were from the local university, came to the door several days ago.
"One of them congratulated Andrei Dmitriyevich for receiving a Norwegian prize," Kovner recounted. The student seemed unaware this was the Noble Peace Prize that Sahkarov won in 1975 for his defense of human freedoms in the face of state retaliation.
The students were detained by police, as was a young woman who, Kovner said, was told her conduct would be reviewed later by a party committee at the establishment where she works.
He said detailed police surveillance extends as well to Sakharov's wife. Although she is an outspoken human rights activist, ostensibly she is not under the so-called "administrative decree" banishing Sakharov, who also has been stripped of all state honors by order of Soviet President Leonid Brezhev.
Kovner said he does not know who else lives in the building, which includes about 70 apartments and is located near the edge of the city in a new area called Prioksi. The region takes in a smaller district called Scherbinki which is the putative "election district" of KGB chief Andropov in the Supreme Soviet, the Soviet figurehead parliament. Andropov, 65, like his 13 other Politburo colleagues -- including Brezhev -- is "running" in single-candidate balloting Feb. 24 for the Supreme Soviet.