Famous for his physics as well as his championship of human rights, Andrei Sakharov is one of the most influential figures in the history of the Cold War. Dr. Sakharov studied physics at the University of Moscow and spent twenty years on the Soviet nuclear weapons project, and became the orginator of the Soviet nuclear bomb. While working on the project, he grew increasingly discontent with the consequences of his work and began to publish articles about the effects of low-level nuclear radiation. In 1968, he wrote "Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom", attacking the Soviet political system. This essay was printed in the New York Times and he lost his position.
Dr. Sakharov became a more vocal advocate of human rights, and when he denounced the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, the Soviet authorities banished him to internal exile in Gorky in 1980. He spent six years in exile, until Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev invited Sakharov to return to Moscow. He continued working for human rights, and his efforts were honored by the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.
Andrei Sakharov died in 1989.
Information as of 1989