Soviet Journalist Calls Behavior ‘Profane’ : Wife’s Actions Peril Sakharov’s Return

From Reuters

Soviet authorities want to let physicist Andrei D. Sakharov return home to Moscow, but the behavior in the West of his wife, Yelena Bonner, has jeopardized the move, an informed Soviet journalist said today.

Viktor Louis, who has acted as a conduit for official thinking on the case, said there is no longer any reason for continuing Sakharov’s enforced exile in the closed city of Gorky. He has been kept in isolation there since 1980.

But Bonner’s public criticism of her country and her talks with Western leaders while abroad for medical treatment have forced the authorities to reconsider the move, he said.


“It makes sense for him (to come back),” Louis said. “She is the obstacle. It is not his behavior. It’s hers. He wants a quiet life, but she would start calling press conferences.”

Louis also gave fresh news of Sakharov’s activities and made clear that recent statements by the dissident physicist on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and Soviet defense pleased the Kremlin.

“He’s on our side of the barricade,” he said. “He is respected by the absolute majority of the Russian people.”

Bonner, 62, was allowed to leave Gorky for medical treatment in the West six months ago.

She said she pledged to refrain from political activities, but after initial reserve, she began talking to the media, attending meetings and writing articles.

Louis said that the authorities had not sought any pledge from Bonner but that she behaved “with profanity” abroad.

“How many politicians has she seen and how many doctors? She has turned herself into a politically outspoken figure helping forces hostile to the Soviet Union,” he said.