Boris Altshuler: "14 December – 25 years since the death of Andrei Sakharov"

posted 21 Dec 2014, 13:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Dec 2014, 13:05 ]
14 December 2014

By Boris Altshuler, Chair of the human rights organisation Right of the Child 

Source: Echo of Moscow

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov died 25 years ago on 14 December 1989. History has no subjunctive mood, but having been close to Sakharov for 20 years, I will express the subjective belief that if he were alive, the history of New Russia would have been quite different. First and foremost, the country would have avoided the horror of the pseudo-market reforms of the 1990s that resulted in a severe reduction in the population (the country’s birth rate halved), the total destruction of the free market, and the dictates of oligarchic monopolies bound up with an excessively corrupt bureaucracy. This ‘economic structure’ is still stifling the country to this day and, under the current conditions of the acute financial crisis, is threatening the very existence of the Russian Federation. 

At the heart of this belief of mine is Sakharov’s immense authority coupled with his regard for human misfortune and a unique ability to identify the key factors that influence the course of events, or the course of History, in other words. Today, these lessons could be salutary. I am sometimes asked what Sakharov would say about the current situation in Russia. In response, of course, I explain that I have no moral right to speak for him, but add that he would perhaps say: “Hope dies last”. Or rather, hope never dies. And this is probably Sakharov’s most important lesson. 

On 12 December 2014, a memorial was unveiled in Nizhny Novgorod to Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov created by the Nizhny Novgorod sculptor Aleksei Shchitov. Unfortunately, Mikhail Prokhorov, who both initiated and financed the memorial, did not attend the ceremony as he was unable to fly out of Moscow due to adverse weather conditions. The ceremony was led by the director of the Sakharov Museum in Nizhy Novgorod, Liubov Potanova. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by the Governor of Nizhny Novgorod region Valery Shantsev and the head of administration of Nizhny Novgorod Oleg Kondrashov. Speeches were made by Valery Shantsev and Boris Altshuler

Boris Lvovich Altschuler, 

Chair of the board of the NGO Right of the Child
Member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, 
Member of the Public Council of the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation, 
Member of the Working Group on the realization of the right of citizens to affordable housing of the Presidential Human Rights Council and the Russian Ministry of Construction, 
Senior Researcher in the Theoretical Physics Department of the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences. 

[For Boris Altshuler's speech at the opening of the memorial in Nizhny Novgorod, see HERE; for press reports of the event in Russian, see;]

Translated by Nicky Brown