Congressional Record: April 24, 2002 (Extensions)
Page E622-E623                       



                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, April 24, 2002

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure and a 
deep sense of solemnity that I introduce, along with Mr. Frank of 
Massachusetts, a resolution to bestow honorary citizenship posthumously 
upon a man whose contribution to world peace and the struggle for human 
rights inspired, and continues to inspire, his own generation and those 
who have followed him. That man is the late Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich 
Sakharov, renowned physicist, humanitarian, and winner of the Nobel 
Peace Prize.

[[Page E623]]

  Dr. Sakharov was a man of great stature in the Soviet scientific 
community, working on defense projects of the greatest importance to 
the Soviet government. His induction into the Academy of Sciences in 
1953 made him the youngest-ever member of the Academy. He enjoyed every 
privilege that Soviet society had to offer, but he abandoned his 
elevated position to protest the threat to humankind posed by nuclear 
testing and the build up of nuclear arms. This led to Dr. Sakharov's 
becoming a leader of the effort for internal reform in the Soviet Union 
and a strong advocate for human rights throughout the world.
  In 1962, Dr. Sakharov proposed to his government that the Soviet 
Union sponsor a partial Test Ban treaty along the lines proposed by 
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in the late 1950s. On August 5, 1963, 
the effort resulted in the signing of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon 
Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water in Moscow.
  In 1968, The New York Times published Dr. Sakharov's ground-breaking 
essay "Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom" which pursued 
two major themes. The first was to challenge Soviet authorities to 
increase intellectual freedom in the interest of peaceful co-existence 
with the West and ending the Cold War. Conversely, it stimulated 
Western interest in disarmament and scientific exchanges, and convinced 
many opinion-makers in the West that it was worth entering into a 
dialogue with Soviet intellectuals and that change from within was 
possible in the USSR. Ultimately, more than 18,000,000 copies of the 
essay were printed around the world in various languages.
  Within two years, Dr. Sakharov, along with Valery Chalidze and Andrei 
Tverdokhlebov, became one of the three founding members of the Moscow 
Human Rights Committee. This gave institutional expression to 
Sakharov's developing interest in human rights and the rule of law as 
guiding principles in the effort to reform and liberalize the Soviet 
regime. When the Helsinki Accords were signed in 1975 by the Soviet 
Union, the United States, Canada and 32 European countries, he noted 
that the Accords had meaning "only if [the Accords] are observed fully 
and by all parties. No country should evade a discussion on its own 
domestic problems * * * [n]or should a country ignore violations in 
other participating states. The whole point of the Helsinki Accords is 
mutual monitoring, not mutual evasion of difficult problems."
  As he became more committed to the human fights struggle in his 
country and peace throughout the world, Dr. Sakharov continued to speak 
out on peace and disarmament, as well as freedom of association and 
movement, freedom of speech, against capital punishment, and in defense 
of preserving the environment.
  Such "heresy" against his government's denial of basic human rights 
brought upon him reprisals from the Soviet government and its secret 
police, the KGB. He was barred from classified work, and many of his 
professional privileges rescinded. Only after a 17-day hunger strike by 
Dr. Sakharov and his wife and fellow human rights activist, Dr. Elena 
Bonner, did authorities allow his daughter-in-law to join her husband 
in the United States. Only after another long struggle was Dr. Bonner 
permitted to go abroad for medical treatment.
  At the same time, the international community was closely following 
his efforts, understanding that his struggle touched us all. In 1975, 
the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. Sakharov for his "personal 
and fearless effort in the cause of peace." It was, Dr. Sakharov 
wrote, "a great honor for me, as well as recognition for the entire 
human rights movement in the USSR."
  On January 22, 1980, in response to Dr. Sakharov's protests against 
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Dr. Sakharov was picked up by the 
police on a Moscow street and sent into "Internal exile" in the 
closed city of Gorky. Joined subsequently by Dr. Elena Bonner, he was 
kept under house arrest, with a round-the-clock police guard, until 
December 1986. Dr. Bonner describes their plight eloquently in her 
book, Alone Together.
  Meanwhile, at the direction of the Congress, President Ronald Reagan 
proclaimed May 21, 1983--Dr. Sakharov's birthday--"National Andrei 
Sakharov Day." In his published statement, President Reagan praised 
Dr. Sakharov's "tireless and courageous efforts on behalf of 
international peace and on behalf of human freedoms for the peoples of 
the Soviet Union."
  Upon his release from internal exile on December 16, 1986 by Soviet 
leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Dr. Sakharov continued the fight for human 
rights in the Soviet Union and was elected to the newly-formed Congress 
of People's Deputies. Just before his death in 1989, he completed his 
draft of a new constitution and submitted it to the Constitutional 
Commission. While many of its specific points were provisional and 
advanced to provoke debate, the draft fundamentally provided for a 
democratic political system, revoking the Communist Party monopoly on 
power. Indeed, a few months after Dr. Sakharov's death, the Congress of 
People's Deputies repealed Article 6 of the Constitution which had 
provided the legal basis for the Communist Party's monopoly on power in 
the Soviet Union. This loss of Communist Party monopoly led inexorably 
to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which removed from the earth a 
vast state that repressed its own citizens and presented a powerful 
military threat to the United States.
  Recently, President Putin, a former KGB agent himself, called Dr. 
Sakharov "a visionary * * * someone who was able to not only see the 
future, but to express, to articulate his thoughts, and do that without 
any fear."
  Fearless in the face of state repression, principled in his devotion 
to peace and disarmament, selfless in the pursuit of human rights for 
all, this was Dr. Sakharov's character.
  Mr. Speaker, honorary citizenship is conferred by the United States 
Government on rare occasions to individuals who have made extraordinary 
contributions to this country or to humankind throughout the world. It 
is and should remain an extraordinary honor not lightly conferred nor 
frequently granted.
  Mr. Speaker, I believe that for his contribution to world peace, the 
end of the Cold War, the recognition of the inextricable link between 
human rights and genuine security and the achievement of human rights, 
however rudimentary in some areas, in the nations of the former Soviet 
Union, Dr. Andrei Sakharov is worthy of being posthumously granted 
honorary citizenship of the United States. I hope my colleagues share 
my enthusiasm for this initiative and will support this resolution.