Memorial to Academician Andrei Sakharov to be Erected in Moscow on Street Named after Him

posted 18 May 2011, 14:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 May 2011, 14:22 ]
Source: hro.org (info), 11/05/11

· Human Rights Defenders · Human Rights Education · Moscow City & Moscow Region

The commission of the Moscow City Duma responsible for monumental art has approved the proposal to erect a memorial to Nobel Peace Prize laureate, academician Andrei Sakharov. The proposed memorial will be on Sakharov Prospect at the intersection with the Garden Ring, Interfax reports.
 
According to Interfax, the notion of putting up a memorial to Sakharov in the capital has been under discussion since 2002, but the question of the location has not been resolved until now. Among the working options considered have been the public garden in front of the Sakharov Centre on the Garden Ring, Leninsky Prospect near the Physics Institute of the Academy of Sciences, and also the square in front of Pashkov House, near the Aleksandrovsky Garden.
 
This issue was last raised by the Andrei Sakharov Foundation just over a month ago. The Foundation suggested four possible locations for the monument. It is proposed that the sculptural composition will be paid for by donations, says Grani.ru.
 
In May 2010, members of an action group for the establishment of a memorial to Sakharov included a representative of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Vyacheslav Bakhmin, director of the Institute for Human Rights Valentin Gefter, executive director of the Sakharov Centre Sergei Lukashevsky, president of Memorial Human Rights Society Sergei Kovalev and, representing the Mandelstam Society, ex-deputy of Moscow City Duma, Evgeny Bunimovich.
 
The group’s members said the memorial’s designer would be chosen in a closed competition - group members would invite sculptors to participate. At the same time, members emphasized that the competition would be absolutely transparent in terms of cost and financing sources.
 
Earlier in February this year, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences came forward with an appeal for the construction of a monument to Sakharov in Moscow. “This is a strange thing. There is a Sakharov Prospect in Moscow. There is a museum named after Sakharov in Moscow. But there is no monument to Andrei Dmitrievich in Moscow. This incongruity should be rectified as quickly as possible,” reads the text of the appeal.
 
“President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin envisage Russia’s future in the transition to a scientific and technological path of development. However, innovations are by no means primarily determined by finance. The keys to innovation are people and public spirit. The spirit of freedom. There is a direct link between scientific accomplishment and purity of the soul,” the authors of the letter remarked.
 
They also cautioned against a cynical attitude toward the new monument, urging that it not be built “in a courtyard”, “between the entrances to residential buildings and the garages”, and especially that there should be no “monument about 40 meters high at the intersection of the Garden Ring with Sakharov Prospect.” As models for the planned memorial, the academicians called attention to the monuments of the ancient world, around which processions passed, and at which “people looked from all sides in a leisurely manner, their thoughts in harmony with the monuments.” They also drew attention to the Albert Einstein Memorial in Washington, which at the same time functions as a children’s playground.
 
“We need to think not only of the sculpture, but also of the concept that will form the basis of this undertaking. Perhaps it will be a Sakharov Garden,” the letter’s authors suggest. “Perhaps a Sakharov Memorial Sculpture. Perhaps a Sakharov Forum, with an area in which rallies and discussions can comfortably be held (not necessarily political, we have already forgotten that it is possible to argue about science, history or poetry as well).” Russia’s only monument to Sakharov was erected in 2003 on the square named after him in St Petersburg, next to the State University and the Library of the Academy of Sciences. The memorial was the work of the sculptor Levon Lazarev.
 
The initiative to put up a memorial to Sakharov at that time provoked protests from his widow, Elena Bonner. She declared that, “in today’s Russia, there is no need to erect a monument to Sakharov.”