On January 22, I was detained on the street and taken by force to the USSR Procurator’s office. Alexander Rekunkov, First Deputy Procurator General of the USSR, informed me that I had been deprived of my title of Hero of Socialist Labour and of all decorations and prize awards, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. I was asked to return the medals and orders and certificates, but I refused, believing that I was given them for good reason. Rekunkov also informed me of the decision to banish me to the city of Gorky, which is closed to foreigners.
On the same day, with my wife, Elena Bonner, who was allowed to go with me, I was taken by special flight to Gorky, where the city’s deputy procurator explained the conditions of the regime decreed for me – overt surveillance, prohibitions against going beyond the city limits, against meeting with foreigners and “criminal elements”, and against correspondence and telephone conversations with foreigners, including scientific and purely personal contacts, even with my children and grandchildren. I was instructed to report three times a week to the police station, and threatened that I would be taken there by force if I refused to obey.
The authorities are completely isolating me from the outside world. The house is surrounded 24 hours a day by police and the KGB, who keep away all visitors, including our friends. Telephone connections with Moscow and Leningrad are cut off... These restrictions also apply to my wife, who is supposedly “free”.
Even in prison, there is more possibility of communication with the outside world.
No longer youngsters and not in the best of health, we are completely deprived of help from our friends and of medical care from our doctors.
These repressive actions were taken against me at a time of a deteriorating international situation and intensified persecution of dissidents within the country.
The actions of the authorities against me are aimed at making the continuation of my public activities completely impossible. They are aimed at humiliating and discrediting me and at the same time making possible further repressive measures against all dissident groups in the country (with less possibility of the world finding out about them), and also further international adventures. ...
Soviet representatives are trying to calm world opinion by saying that I will be able to continue scientific work and that there is no threat of criminal prosecution against me. But I am prepared to stand public and open trial. I do not need a gilded cage. I need the right to fulfil my public duty as my conscience dictates.
© Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner, heirs