"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Andrei D. Sakharov
Human-rights activist Andrei D. Sakharov met Soviet leader
Mikhail S. Gorbachev for the first time yesterday and gave him a list of 200 citizens he said are still imprisoned for their views.
Gorbachev received the 66-year-old dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate along with about two dozen other members of the board of a new organization called the International Fund for the Survival of Humanity.
American industrialist Armand Hammer, a board member and the fund\'s biggest benefactor, said Sakharov used the opportunity to draw Gorbachev\'s attention to the continued plight of political prisoners.
Since becoming Communist Party general secretary in March 1985, Gorbachev has been waging a campaign for glasnost, or openness, in discussing the nation\'s problems.
Yesterday\'s meeting with Sakharov was Gorbachev\'s first personal encounter with a dissident, although he has talked to Sakharov on the telephone.
In its report on the meeting, the evening television news program \'\'Vremya" identified Sakharov as one of the participants and briefly showed the physicist seated at the table and smiling.
The Tass news agency reported Sakharov\'s comments to journalists later in which he praised Gorbachev as a "dynamic leader" and called for an early Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, Tass did not report that Sakharov had told reporters he favored a rapid Soviet pullout from Afghanistan "without any conditions whatsoever."
Sakharov has maintained a lower profile since returning from exile 13 months ago and has praised Gorbachev\'s reform policies. But he continues to speak out against human rights violations and matters of Kremlin policy he disagrees with, such as the presence of 115,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Hammer said the Soviet leader was "very respectful" and listened attentively to Sakharov during the exchange in Gorbachev\'s offices yesterday.
Sakharov, who was released from exile and allowed to return to Moscow in
December 1986, spoke with reporters about Gorbachev but declined to say what subjects he raised during the three-hour meeting in the Kremlin.
In Paris, meanwhile, writer Elie Wiesel, a Boston University professor, called on Soviet authorities to allow Sakharov to go to France next week for a conference of fellow Nobel Prize winners, Reuters reported.
Wiesel and French President Francois Mitterrand are co-hosts of the four- day meeting of 80 Nobel laureates, the first such event of its kind, to discuss moral problems of the next century.
"If Sakharov is not allowed to come, it will change the nature of the conference as many people will feel it necessary to mention his absence," Wiesel told reporters.
Sakharov is one of 30 board members for the fund, which was described at the news conference as a private research group that will study problems such as the arms race, pollution, poverty, hunger and human rights violations.
The founders said the group will work independently, using contributions
from corporations and individuals to finance its work.
Soviet citizens rarely have been allowed to take part in private international organizations, but the fund appears to have official backing in view of the reception by Gorbachev. The news conference was held at a Foreign Ministry hall, and prominent scientists Roald Sagdeyev and Yevgeny Velikhov are among the Soviet board members.
At the news conference, Sakharov sat in a section of the hall reserved for board members and took his turn answering questions about the fund\'s access to Soviet military spending figures and the projects its members will pursue.
He and other board members said they considered questions about individual freedoms an important topic for the fund to investigate.
Asked after the news conference about his impressions of Gorbachev, Sakharov told reporters it was their first face-to-face encounter and the first time they had talked since Gorbachev called him in Gorky more than a year ago to say his seven-year exile would be ended.
"I have a great opinion of Gorbachev as a government figure and in personal terms," Sakharov said. "I think this kind of leader is needed in a great country at such a decisive moment in history."
Sakharov said he made a "presentation," as did each of the other board members who attended the meeting, but declined to say what they talked about.
Hammer said Sakharov used his turn to talk to present a list of political prisoners. He did not know whose imprisonment Sakharov was seeking to end, but quoted the dissident as saying 200 names were on the list.
View Full Essay
Perestroika, Soviet dissidents, Andrei Sakharov, Nuclear weapons program of the Soviet Union, Sakharov, Mikhail Gorbachev, Glasnost, Sakharov Center
More Free Essays Like This