Nothing in recent developments in the Soviet Union has been as exciting and pleasing as the release of Andrei Sakharov after nearly seven years in exile. His return was long overdue, and the exile (which was illegal even by Soviet standards) was entirely unnecessary. It cost dearly the health of Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, and inevitably damaged scientific cooperation between the East and West.

I have known Sakharov since the summer of 1964, when he made his short but strong speech at the general meeting of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences against Lysenko's domination of Soviet biology. His speech set the Academy on a collision course with Khrushchev's government and led to threats of severe reprimands. A few months later, Lysenko's fall (which followed that of Khrushchev) proved that Sakharov was right and the government wrong.

Sakharov's statement in 1979 that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a...

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