This week our guest is Boris Lvovich Altshuler. Boris Altshuler is a physicist and human rights activist, a senior researcher at the theoretical physics department of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chair of the NGO Right of the Child and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
The issues we discuss in the podcast include: participation in the Soviet-era human rights movement; acquaintance with Andrei Sakharov; the NGO Right of the Child; the state of human rights and civil society in Russia; celebrating the 100th anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s birth; and the future of human rights in Russia.
This podcast is in the Russian language. You can listen to it here:
The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: Just before we started recording the podcast with Boris Lvovich Altshuler, I told him that my very early childhood was spent in Arzamas-16, where my parents worked until the early 1960s. It was there that Boris Altshuler also spent his school years. Boris Altshuler, in our conversation, just as my parents once did, called the place ‘The Object.’ It was at ‘the Object’ that B.L. Altshuler’s father, the physicist Lev Vladimirovich Altshuler, worked and was friends with Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov. He inherited this friendship after he met Andrei D. Sakharov in 1968. This collaboration – in the fields of physics and human rights – lasted more than 20 years. In general, all the stories Boris Lvovich told last Sunday were interesting and fascinating. It was like reading a good novel: the plot grabs you from the first lines: “My dissidence began in an anonymous way. In 1968 I wrote a text with a friend of mine called The Leningrad Programme. We made 10 copies and then destroyed the typewriter.” Or again, as the physicist Boris Altshuler tells us: “In 1982-1987, I worked as a street cleaner. And then – perestroika! – I was hired as a researcher at the Theoretical Physics Department of the P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the head of the housing district where I had worked gave me a reference, stressing that I was “a good street cleaner.” Listen to our conversation with Boris L. Altshuler.
Simon Cosgrove adds: If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.