Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

Andrei Sakharov
Source: Vladimir Fedorenko, 1989

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear theoretical physicist who was born on the 21st May, 1921, in Moscow. Sakharov received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 as an international recognition for the defense of human rights, freedoms and reforms in the Soviet Union.

Andrei Sakharov graduated from the Moscow University Faculty of Physics in 1942 and worked as a scientist until 1945. Then, he started his doctorate at the Lebedev Institute, in the Physics department of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Igor E. Tamm, a renowned theoretical physicist, was his teacher. Sakharov wrote his PhD thesis about nuclear energy and was included in a research group working on the development of nuclear weapons. During this period, Sakharov and Igor Tamm made a proposal that led to the construction of the hydrogen bomb.

Sakharov was rewarded by becoming a full member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, when he was just 32, with privileges from the Nomenklatura, the name given to the Soviet Union’s elite membership. During the 1960s, the physicist published an article “Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom”. This article was responsible for his expulsion from the working group and he was deprived of his privileges. Then, he became an assistant professor, at the Lebedev Institute. A decade later, Sakharov, together with Chalidze and Tverdokhlebov, founded the Human Rights Committee in the USSR, to defend human rights and victims of political trials.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 for defending human rights and for trying to bring the Soviet Union closer to other non-communist nations. He was not allowed to receive it personally. Sakharov continued his work on the subject of Human Rights and, in the early 1980s he was exiled to Gorky with his wife, Yelena Bonner. Only after Mikhail Gorbachev got into power, in 1986, they were allowed to return to Moscow.

In March 1989, the physicist was elected to the First Congress of Popular Deputies, representing the Academy of Sciences. Sakharov saw many of his causes became official policies of Gorbachev and his successors. He died in Moscow on December 14, 1989.


Gorelik, G., & Bouis, A. W. (2005). The world of Andrei Sakharov: A Russian physicist’s path to freedom. Oxford University Press.

Lourie, R. (2002). Sakharov: A Biography. Brandeis University Press.

Drell, S. D. & Shultz G. P. (Editors (2015)). Andrei Sakharov: The Conscience of Humanity. Hoover Institution Press Publication.