Yuri Orlov, the Russian physicist who championed human rights in the Soviet Union before being deported to the United States in 1986, died on 27 September at his home in Ithaca, New York, The New York Times reports. He was 96. An expert in particle accelerators, Orlov helped organize the Soviet Union’s branch of Amnesty International in 1973 and 3 years later co-founded the Moscow Helsinki Group, which monitored Soviet adherence to the civil rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords, a series of agreements between the Soviets and the West signed in 1975. In 1977, Orlov was tried and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor and exile in Siberia. He came to the United States in 1986 in a prisoner exchange orchestrated by then-President Ronald Reagan and then–Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Orlov then worked and taught at Cornell University. He didn’t think much of Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing in 2004 that “Russia is flying backward in time.”
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