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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 21, 2001
Statement by the President
Today, we honor the memory of Andrei Sakharov on the 80th anniversary of his birth. Throughout his life, Andrei Sakharov served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for those who value peace and freedom, both in his native Russia and around the world. A gifted nuclear physicist, he became a powerful advocate for nuclear non-proliferation. Awarded his country's highest honors, he became best known for standing up to Soviet totalitarianism and becoming a powerful advocate for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He did so at great personal cost. He endured prolonged harassment and forced internal exile in Gorky, where he was cut off from friends and family. But throughout his trials, Andrei Sakharov never wavered in his "fearless personal commitment in upholding the fundamental principles for peace" -- a fact recognized by his Nobel Peace Prize citation in 1975. After he was allowed to return to public life, Sakharov became a prominent voice of democratic opposition and was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies, the Soviet Union's first democratically-chosen body.
On today's anniversary, it is important for the international community to reflect on the great contributions Andrei Sakharov made to help advance the freedoms that all peoples of the world should rightfully enjoy. Unfortunately, too many people in too many parts of the world today do not enjoy these basic freedoms and those who speak out on behalf of freedom are too often jailed, tortured, or murdered. Let us resolve to honor Andrei Sakharov's memory by continuing the struggle against these injustices.
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