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Yuri Orlov

For the zoologist, see Yuri Alexandrovich Orlov.
Yuri Orlov
Юрий Орлов
Born (1924-08-13) 13 August 1924 (age 91)
Moscow, USSR
Doctoral advisor Template:If empty
Known for nuclear physicist, dissident, human rights activist.
Notable awards Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize (1986), Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service (1995), Andrei Sakharov Prize (APS) (2006)

Yuri Feodorovich Orlov (Russian: Юрий Фёдорович Орлов, born 13 August 1924) is Professor of Physics and Government at Cornell University, a prominent nuclear physicist, a former Soviet dissident, and a human rights activist.

During his childhood, in the 1930s, Orlov witnessed the destruction of his home village by Stalinist collectivisation in the USSR.

After World War II he worked at the Moscow Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, from which he was fired in 1956 for his human rights activism. He was sent into "soft exile" in Armenia, where in the early 1970s he led Particle accelerator projects at the Yerevan Physics Institute.

Upon his return to Moscow in 1973 he worked at the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism and Propagation of Radio Waves in suburban Troitsk, whilst at the same time publicly supporting Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 1976, to the further displeasure of the authorities, he founded the Moscow Helsinki Group to monitor Soviet adherence to the 1975 Helsinki human rights accords.

In 1978, Orlov was sentenced and incarcerated for almost ten years. In July 1983, the Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky sent the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov a letter asking for the release of Orlov to Austria, but it was intentionally left without an answer.[1]

Orlov was freed in 1986, only to be stripped of his Soviet citizenship and deported to the United States as a part of the exchange for a Soviet spy.

Since December 1986 Orlov has pursued his physics research at Cornell University.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Orlov studies particle accelerator design, beam interaction analysis and quantum mechanics. He has authored numerous research papers, articles on human rights, and an autobiography, Dangerous Thoughts (1991).

In 1995 the American Physical Society awarded him the Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service.

In 2005 Orlov participated in "They Chose Freedom", a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement. In 2005 he was named the first recipient of the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Prize, awarded biennially by the American Physical Society to honor scientists for exceptional work in promoting human rights.[2][3]

He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Asia Advisory and Academic Freedom Committees, and member of the Honorary 25th Anniversary Committee, Global Rights.


  1. ^ About the letter by Bruno Kreisky to the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov
  2. ^ 2006 Andrei Sakharov Prize Recipient
  3. ^ Lauren Gold. First Andrei Sakharov Prize for human rights goes to Cornell physicist and former Soviet gulag prisoner Yuri Orlov.

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