Nobel Peace Prize Presented Amid Controversy, Rights Protest

From Times Wire Services

A Soviet and an American cardiologist were presented with the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of a physicians’ anti-war group here Tuesday amid controversy and a demonstration by human rights activists in the icy streets outside.

Drs. Bernard Lown of Cambridge, Mass. and Yevgeny I. Chazov, a Soviet deputy health minister, accepted the award as co-founders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a Boston-based group that claims to have more than 135,000 members in 41 countries. The group was chosen for dramatizing what it considers the insurmountable medical problems that would be created by nuclear war.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Dec. 12, 1985 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 12, 1985 Home Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 1 Foreign Desk 3 inches; 78 words Type of Material: Correction
In a wire service story from Oslo, The Times mistakenly reported Wednesday that the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee had protested the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to an international physicians’ group co-founded by Dr. Yevgeny I. Chazov, Soviet deputy health minister. In fact, the protest came from Sen. Alphonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.), chairman of a congressional commission that also monitors the implementation of the Helsinki accords. The U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee is a private organization with no connection to the congressional commission.

This year’s award was one of the most controversial ever presented, with protests directed at the award’s committee’s choice of Chazov as a co-recipient. He has been accused of participating in a 1973 political attack against Soviet dissident Andrei D. Sakharov, a noted physicist, who received the Peace Prize in 1975. Sakharov has been confined to the closed Soviet city of Gorky since 1980 because of his outspoken dissent.

The Soviet Union and its East Bloc allies had boycotted the awards ceremony since the Sakharov award, but all East Bloc ambassadors were present for Tuesday’s award ceremony.


The ambassadors of the United States, West Germany and Britain normally attend but were out of Norway on Tuesday. Their absence was viewed as demonstrating unhappiness with the selection.

Protesters Blocked Entrance

Lown and Chazov were forced to enter the main hall at Oslo University where the award ceremony was held through a side door because 200 to 300 protesters blocked the main entrance. After the ceremony, police cleared a path through the protesters, and the two Nobel laureates left from the front entrance.

Braving the bitter cold, the protesters waved a banner saying, “Find Better Friends, Dr. Lown.” Another banner said, “This Is a Peace Prize Against Sakharov.”


On the eve of the presentation, the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee, a group of Congress members that monitors compliance with the 1975 Helsinki accords, protested the award to Chazov. The commission chairman, Sen. Alphonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.), charged that Chazov is “a tool of the KGB.”

“Documented Soviet abuses of psychiatry and medicine, which shock and horrify the civilized world, can be laid directly at Dr. Chazov’s doorstep,” he said.

In Bonn, Heiner Geissler, general secretary of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union, on Tuesday called presentation of the award to Chazov “a slap in the face of those who are persecuted and oppressed by the world’s dictatorships.”

Geissler had spearheaded the move to protest the award to Chazov with a letter sent Nov. 12 to the awards committee disclosing that the physician joined other Soviet academics in condemnation of Sakharov.

The committee admitted it had been unaware of this when it made the award. Chazov declined at a press conference Monday to answer questions about his role in the condemnation of Sakharov. Nor did he allude to it in his acceptance speech, though he did admit that the five years of the anti-war group’s existence “were not all roses.”

Lown and Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Egil Aarvik seemed to allude to the protests in their own speeches. Both said that the fundamental human rights issue today is the threat of nuclear annihilation.

“We are not indifferent to other human rights and hard-won civil liberties,” Lown told the audience of more than 600 dignitaries that included Norwegian King Olav V. “But first we must be able to bequeath to our children the most fundamental of all rights, which preconditions all others, the right to survive.”

Aarvik declared: “This year’s prize is more concerned with the problem of disarmament, but is also at a deeper level concerned with human rights, perhaps even the most fundamental human right of them all, the right to live.”


‘Aspirations Are Pure’

“Our aspirations are pure,” said Chazov, who read his speech in English at the rostrum where he and Lown were presented with the Peace Prize gold medal and $235,000 that will go to their organization.

“We were the first to demolish the nuclear illusions that existed and to unveil the true face of nuclear weapons,” said Chazov. “We warned the peoples and governments that medicine would be helpless to offer even minimal relief to the hundreds of millions of victims in nuclear war.”

Both recipients attacked “the expansion of the arms race into space” and called for a ban on nuclear tests.

Chazov attended the late Soviet leaders Leonid I. Brezhnev, Yuri V. Andropov and Konstantin U. Chernenko. Lown, born in Lithuania, teaches at Harvard University School of Public Health.

The Oslo ceremony was the first event in Scandinavia’s annual Dec. 10 round of Nobel Prize presentations. Nobel winners are usually chosen in October and the awards presented Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, who established all but the prize in economics.

In a gala white-tie ceremony in Stockholm attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf in neighboring Sweden later Tuesday, five Americans, a West German and a Frenchman received Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry, economics, physics and literature.

In Stockholm, this year’s prize in medicine went to Americans Michael S. Brown, 44, and Joseph L. Goldstein, 45, for research into how the body handles cholesterol.


Americans Jerome Karle, 67, and Herbert H. Hauptman, 68, received the prize in chemistry for developing methods of determining crystal structures.

West German Klaus von Klitzing, 42, won the prize in physics for a discovery related to how electrical conductivity behaves under varying magnetic influences.

Naturalized American economist Franco Modigliani, born in Italy 67 years ago, received the prize for economics, established in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank.