Andrei Sakharov, LL.D., February 17, 1989
Andrei Sakharov

I have the honor to present Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov, physicist, Nobel Laureate, and humanitarian.

Dr. Sakharov was born in Moscow on May 21, 1921. He graduated in physics from Moscow University in 1942 and completed his doctorate in theoretical physics some five years later. His research at this time included a study of the generation of the component of cosmic radiation and the interactions between electron-positon pairs. In 1950, in conjunction with Academician Igor Tamm, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958, Andrei Sakharov proposed that an electric discharge generated in a plasma contained within a magnetic field could be used to obtain controlled thermonuclear reactions. His later work on hydrogen fusion was, of course, of both a pioneering nature and of fundamental importance.
Dr. Sakharov became a member of the Lebedev Institute of Physics in 1945 and was elected to the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1953, a rare distinction for a scientist then in his early thirties. Prior to 1965, Academician Sakharov had won many honors from the state including the State and the Lenin Prizes, the Lenin medal, and was named a Hero of Socialist Labor on three occasions.

In the late 1960's, however, a sharp change in the direction of his career took place. His appeal for improved human rights in the Soviet Union had attracted worldwide attention, and from that time forward he was to be an unflinching opponent of repression and a champion of the rights of the individual. His statement, of June 1968 entitled "Thoughts in Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom", demanded complete and immediate freedom of information and discussion. He sought to remove the triple dangers, as he saw them, of nuclear war, of worldwide famine and of pollution of the planet. His activism was both constructive and courageous, and led directly to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, an honor accepted on his behalf by his wife Yelena Bonner. In 1975, he also became Vice-President of the International League for Human Rights.

Five years later, however, Dr. Sakharov's vocal denunciation of Soviet involvement in Afghanistan in 1980 resulted in the enforced exile of the Sakharovs to Gorky, an exile which inally ended on December 23, 1986. Academician Sakharov continues to address human rights issues.

Appropriately enough, Dr. Sakharov is now bringing the logical orderly ways of the physical scientist to the world of politics. According to him the scientific method has been woefully neglected by the statesmen of the world. He has described the scientific method in politics as an approach "based on the deep analysis of facts, theories and views, presupposing unprejudiced, fearless, open discussion and conclusions". This approach should serve him well as he faces the challenges ahead as physicist, reformer and great human being.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you now confer on Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.