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The Daily Vertical: Sakharov's Other Russia (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

He exemplified the other Russia.

The one that inspires rather than intimidates.

The one that seeks to join the world rather than fight it.

The one that aims to live in peace with its neighbors rather than dominate them.

The one that aspires to put the rights and the well-being of its citizens above the imperial ambitions of the state.

The one that defies all the stereotypes.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Two score and eight years ago, on December 14, 1989, Andrei Sakharov, the exemplar of this other Russia, died in Moscow at the age of 68.

Days later, tens of thousands of mourners attended his memorial service.

And years later, Mikhail Gorbachev famously said: "If we had only listened more carefully to Andrei Dmitriyevich, we might have learned something."

It has, of course, been a very long time since Sakharov's vision has been close to ascendant.

Sakharov's other Russia is an ideal shared only by a tiny minority in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

But as we watch the choreographed spectacle and the stage-managed ritual that is Putin's annual press conference today, it's worth remembering that that there was another way.

And as we watch the Putin show, it's well worth remembering the man who exemplified the other Russia.

The man who tragically passed away 28 years ago today.

The man whose vision is more relevant now than ever.

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