Letter from Frank Press, National Academy of Sciences to Marshall W. Nirenberg
Press, President of the National Academy of Sciences, provides an update on the release from exile of Soviet scientist Andrei
Sakharov and remains hopeful that formal relations with the Soviet Academy are possible. Press notes that in press interviews
Sakharov "attributed his release from exile to the role of Western academies," making Sakharov's return to Moscow
and his scientific work a "reason for rejoicing."
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2 (120,531 Bytes)
1987-01-06 (January 6, 1987)
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
Reproduced with permission of Frank Press.
Beyond the Laboratory: Professional, Personal, and Political Life, 1967-2002
Two weeks ago I informed Academician Guri Marchuk, the new president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, of our delight at
the good news that our foreign associate, Academician Andrei Sakharov, and his wife, Dr. Elena Bonner, were being permitted
to return to Moscow and that Sakharov would resume his scientific work. (As you may have read in the press reports, President
Marchuk visited Sakharov in Gorky.) Academician Yevgeny P. Velikhov, a vice president of the Soviet academy and one with
whom I have personally discussed the situation of Sakharov and his wife, was with Vladimir F. Petrovsky, a deputy foreign
minister, when the official announcement was made at a press conference. Dr. Velikhov was quoted as saying that he would
welcome Academician Sakharov's return to active research at the academy's Institute of Physics. Dr. Sakharov has
always retained his membership in the Soviet academy, although he was reportedly stripped of all other honors when sent into
internal exile in Gorky in January 1980. Members of the academy in good standing are entitled to a number of privileges,
including special medical care, which the Sakharovs deserve.
Dr. Bonner stressed on several occasions last spring, when she was a guest at the NAS Annual Meeting, that our appeals in
Dr. Sakharov's behalf should continue to focus on his wish to return to Moscow and to resume his scientific work. In
his press interviews, Dr. Sakharov attributed his release from exile to the role of Western academies. It is both gratifying
and heartening, therefore, to know that our many efforts, about which I have written you earlier, have been rewarded, and
that this wish has been fulfilled. I am hopeful that the decision to reestablish formal relations with the Soviet academy
and to use these renewed channels of communication to encourage Soviet scientific leaders to address human rights concerns
will continue to show results. Time will tell.
I know that along with the numerous and repeated appeals, both public and private, that were made by the officers of this
Academy, many individual members have steadfastly continued their own efforts in Dr. Sakharov's behalf. The leaders of
Western governments have also played an important role. Thus, I know that Dr. Sakharov's long-awaited return to Moscow
and his scientific work gives us all reason for rejoicing.