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Keeping in Tough

The Orlov Committee at CERN 1978-1988

Yuri Orlov, seen on the right talking to CERN's Pierre Lefévre, founded the Helsinki Watch Group in 1976, was arrested in 1977 and sentenced to seven years in a labour camp.

The Orlov Committee was created by a group of CERN physicists in 1978 with the purpose of supporting scientific colleagues persecuted for their actions in defense of human rights. The Committee worked to promote human rights in the scientific communities of several countries including Morocco, Turkey, the Soviet Union and Uruguay. Yuri Orlov spent one year as a guest professor at CERN in 1991.

Andrei Dimitrievich Sakharov 1921 - 1989

In the citation for his 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, Andrei Dimitrievich Sakharov was described as 'spokesman for the conscience of mankind'.

The talented and versatile scientist and fearless activist was unable to receive the prize in person. Deemed politically unacceptable, from 1980 he was exiled in Gorki, where he tried to keep in touch with scientific developments as best he could. CERN scientific publications and the CERN Courier, were sent to him by registered mail. In this clip from a 1985 Soviet TV film, Sakharov was seen picking up a copy of the CERN Courier from his table to demonstrate that the message was getting through.

Yuri Orlov and Andrei Sakharov symbolised the struggle for scientific freedom and international collaboration which are the foundations of CERN's existence. Due to their sense of justice, democracy, and their intellectual integrity they both played an important and political role during the "perestroika" period and helped change to happen.

Between 1947 and 1989 Europe was divided and East-West tensions were strained.

From the 60s onwards collaboration with CERN allowed scientists to almost forget their differences and simply get on with achieving their shared scientific ambitions.

Working together towards a common goal produced lasting links and friendships which are reinforced today by new experiments. Groups which came together for the first time 30 years ago are now working together in LHC collaborations.

1989: The Wall comes down


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