Lev Ponomarev: Andrei Sakharov and Today's World

posted 22 Dec 2014, 03:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Dec 2014, 03:15 ]
16 December 2014

Interview with Lev Ponomarev

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

Admirers of Andrei Sakharov, including scientists, public figures, politicians and human rights defenders, marked the 25th anniversary of the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate with a round table discussion at the International University in Moscow. The topic under discussion was “Academician Andrei Sakharov and the Modern World”. Moskovsky komsomolets spoke with Lev Ponomarev, one of the event’s organisers, head of the NGO For Human Rights, and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

- Lev Aleksandrovich, it might seem to many today that Sakharov’s life and struggle is something very far removed from us. Would you contest that point of view?

- History develops in a spiral, and right now we have returned to the end of the 1980s. At that time, there were two people in Russia who had a real impact on the situation in the country. From the political establishment there was Yeltsin, and the second person was Sakharov, who had nothing to do with those at the top but was well-known throughout the country. If only he had still been alive when Yeltsin became president...

- But history knows nothing of the subjunctive mood...

You know, there are many for whom I would not venture to comment on how they might evaluate certain events today, but I am willing to do so for him. He would definitely have condemned the annexation of Crimea as something not right, for example. If Sakharov was alive, I am sure we could have avoided the war in Chechnya. Starovoitova and I, along with several other democrats, did everything we could to prevent the war and were preparing for a meeting between Yeltsin and Dudayev. We also had Marshal Shaposhnikov on our side. But we did not have enough weight to make the meeting happen. I was told that Dudayev had a new suit made for the meeting, but Yeltsin’s entourage stopped it from happening.

- So what lessons can we learn from this today?

Right now, many people are saying that Russia needs a revolution. In the late 1980s, we were lucky that the path from socialism to a new social order was evolutionary. Sakharov’s role in the Inter-Regional Deputy Group was more serious than that of Yeltsin, so we should be grateful to him for the evolutionary path of development. Our most important success was that the revolution itself was bloodless.

Original source: Moskovsky komsomolets, 16.12.2014

Translated by Nicky Brown
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