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Andrei Sakharov 1921 - 1989

he defended peace and human dignity in the GULag

Andrei Sacharov was a physician, a member of the Academy of Sciences of USSR from 1953. He did important researches in astrophysics and was one of the creators of the thermonuclear bomb. For this reason, he was awarded three times Hero of the Socialist Work. In his work Sacharov was already convinced of operating for an ideal of peace and progress: he considered the nuclear balance a deterrent from a global military conflict between the two blocs. He will underline this conviction in the samizdat essay of the 1968 "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom", in which he wishes a gradual approaching between USSR and USA and a strong refusal in USSR of neo-stalinist temptations.
He was a supporter of the Spring of Prague and one of the first who spoke about the question of the political prisoners.
In that same year, 1968, Sacharov got nearer and nearer the dissident movement and when, in 1971, he got married to Elena Bonner, he was with her in the centre of every battle for the respect of human rights and legality.
In 1975 he was awarded with the Nobel prize for Peace. In the beginning of 1980 he denounced the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and was relegated in Gorkij, where he lived, in almost complete isolation, for 6 years. He came back to Moscow in 1986 and was elected in 1989 at the Congress of the People Deputies. He became one of the chiefs of the democratic opposition, which asks quick and substantial reforms. When he died, in on the 14th December 1989, he was fighting for the abolition of the 6th article of the Soviet Constitution, the one on the role of the Communist Party, and he was working hard on the project of a new Constitution. In 1990 his "Memories" were published.

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The difficult defense of human dignity

In communist totalitarianism

The Gulag as the organized system of soviet labor camps was a powerful instrument for the extermination of entire groups of citizens by the communist totalitarian regime, in the USSR since half of the Twenties and then by emulation of the other countries of the communist bloc, both in Europe and in the Far East.
Through terror, the regime exerted an iron grip over the population who completely submitted to the regime. 

For those who opposed the regime the question was not about risking their lives to rescue other human beings, but to save their true identity at the cost of their life. Through this, indirectly, other lives were saved and this courageous kind of moral resistance contributed to the collapse of the Soviet empire, which collapsed at the end of 1989.