Valery Chalidze

Valery Chalidze, 1972

Valery Chalidze was a theoretical physicist who, alongside with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, campaigned to expose human rights violations in the Soviet Union.

Valery Nikolayevich Chalidze was born in Moscow on the 25th November, 1938. He studied physics at Moscow State University and graduated in 1958. In 1965, the physicist received the equivalent of a PhD in Physics from Tbilisi State University in Georgia. He was the head of a physics laboratory when he became a dissident. Chalidze founded an underground newspaper, entitled “Social Issues” and defended the Jews’ rights to who were denied emigration from the Soviet Union, and wrote the first document on the subject. Chalidze specialized in repairing typewriters, essential to disseminate prohibited literature in the country (samizdat).

In 1970, Chalidze, together with Sakharov and Andrei Tverdokhlebov, founded the Human Rights Committee in the USSR, one of the first human rights organizations in the Soviet Union. Chalidze was one of the main activists in the defense of homossexuals’ rights in the Soviet Union. He suffered reprisals from Soviet authorities, who persecuted him, searched his apartment and launched rumors about his sexuality.

In 1972, while Chalidze was in the United States speaking at conferences and forums on human rights, the Soviet government revoked his citizenship. Thus, Chalidze remained in the country and he became an american citizen in 1979.

Chalidze continued his activism in exile, writing books on Soviet political and legal life. He also edited a bimonthly publication “A Chronicle of Rights Human in USSR”, which pointed out arrests and intimidation acts against Soviet political dissidents. The physicist was responsible for launching the publishers Khronika Press and Chalidze Publications, which published classics of literature in Russian and translations of works of history and philosophy.

The physicist settled in Vermont in 1983 and taught at Yale University. Additionally, he was a visiting professor at other colleges and, in later years, he wrote books on human rights, physics and other topics.

Chalidze passed away in the United States on January 3rd, 2018, at the age of 79.