In January 1990, at the initiative of Sakharov’s widow, Yelena Bonner, the Public Commission to Preserve the Legacy of Academician Andrei Sakharov was created, and in August of that same year in the US, the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (ASF) was created. Human rights defenders, public figures, and scientists – friends and colleagues of Academician Sakharov – joined these organizations.
The main joint project of the Public Commission and the Foundation was the creation in Moscow of the Sakharov Archive and the Sakharov Center. In addition, they organize memorial events, primarily the International Congresses in Memory of Andrei Sakharov, during which the current problems of Russia and the modern world within the sphere of Sakharov’s interests are discussed.
On May 18, 1991, in the city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod), in the apartment where Andrei Sakharov and Bonner spent nearly seven years during their exile, the Andrei Sakharov Museum was opened.
The museum has an exhibit devoted to the life and activity of Sakharov, including the Nizhny Novgorod roots of his family, and has also preserved their apartment as they left it. Exhibitions, thematic meetings, roundtables, practical science conferences and other events are held at this museum.
On May 21, 1994, on what would have been Sakharov’s 73rd birthday, the Sakharov Archive was opened in Moscow.
This non-governmental archival institution was created by the Public Commission to Preserve the Legacy of Academician Sakharov on the basis of the documents and materials donated by his widow, Bonner from the personal archives and libraries of Andrei Sakharov and herself.
The apartment in the building where Sakharov lived from 1971 until his death (interrupted by exile) was granted by the Moscow Government as a space for the Archive.
The Sakharov Archive remains the main Russian center for the collection, preservation and study of documental materials, memorial items, photo, video, and audio materials related to the life and activity of Academician Sakharov.
The Archive has a museum exhibition open to the public, devoted to Sakharov’s biography, and since 2013, the A.D. Sakharov Memorial Apartment, where he died on December 14, 1989, was opened. This apartment, preserved in its historical form, was restored, and made into a museum on funds collected in a public campaign.
The Andrei Sakharov Peace, Progress and Human Rights Public Center, which at the present time is called simply “the Sakharov Center,” was opened in Moscow not far from Sakharov’s last apartment on May 21, 1996, the day of Sakharov’s 75th birthday. The initiator of its creation and the first director was the commentator and public figure Yury Samodurov.
Sakharov’s words from his Nobel Lecture of 1975 – “Peace, progress, and human rights – these three goals are insolubly linked to one another: it is impossible to achieve one of these goals if the other two are ignored” – have served as the Sakharov Center’s motto from the moment of its creation.
The Sakharov Center combines the functions of a museum, library, public and volunteer center. Public lectures and discussions, film shows, theatrical performances, exhibits, and charitable activities take place here, and educational projects are carried out. A permanent museum exhibition is open titled “History of Totalitarianism and Resistance to Oppression in the USSR,” and there are electronic resources available – databases devoted to the history of political repression and the human rights movement.
The Sakharov Center is a common home for human rights defenders and civic activists of Moscow and Russia. Each year, more than 400 events devoted both to historical memory as well as relevant current issues take place, primarily related to the defense of human rights.
Every May, the Sakharov Center holds the Sakharov May Day – a Festival of Freedom, which is tied to Andrei Sakharov’s birthday.