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Sakharov Wins In Special Vote Of New Soviet Congress

April 21, 1989 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ Human right activist Andrei D. Sakharov won election to the Soviet Union’s new parliament, grabbing the votes of more than 800 members of the prestigious Academy of Sciences, the official Tass news agency said Friday.

Joining Sakharov as deputies in the Congress of People’s Deputies are space scientist Roald Z. Sagdeev, economist Nikolai Shmelev and Georgy A. Arbatov, director of the U.S.A. and Canada Institute.

Tass announced preliminary results of the balloting Thursday for 12 congress seats remaining to be selected from the Academy of Sciences in a repeat election.

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It said Shmelev, who has proposed radical solutions to the Soviet Union’s economic problems, won the most votes, 869 of 1,101. Sakharov received 806 and Sagdeev received 739, Tass said.

″This (Sakharov’s election) will be a great success for perestroika,″ said one of Sahrarov’s backers, Alexander Sobianen, using the word for President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s reform program.

The repeat election by members of the Academy of Sciences came after the academy’s leadership had refused to put Sakharov on the ballot for the first vote last month. Backers of the Nobel Peace Price-winning physicist succeeded in rejecting 15 of the 23 candidates to force a second vote.

This time, 28 candidates were nominated for the 12 seats still open, and the nominees included many of the reformers the academy’s leadership had initially refused to put on the ballot - among them Sagdeev and Shmelev.

Critics had charged the initial nominees were entrenched bureaucrats chosen in a process that ignored the wishes of average academy members.

Sobianen was one of the organizers last month of the campaign to reject the first set of nominees for the academy’s 20 seats in the 2,250-member Congress of People’s Deputies.

The body will elect a standing leglislature as well as a president, which is expected to be Gorbachev.

Sakharov appeared Thursday morning at Moscow State University, picked up his ballot and spent several minutes marking it in a curtain-enclosed booth before dropping it in a wooden ballot box. He made no comments to reporters.

Sakharov, winner of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights activities, was exiled to the closed city of Gorky in January 1980 for criticizing the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. In 1986, Gorbachev allowed him to return to Moscow.

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Sakharov has since resumed his scientific work and continued to speak out on social issues. He supports Gorbachev’s reforms but criticizes what he sees as efforts to slow or reverse them.

In a speech Wednesday night, Sakharov told the academy that a decree barring ″insults and discrediting″ of the government should be rescinded by the new Congress of People’s Deputies, which meets for the first time May 25.

He repeated earlier criticism of a pair of laws allowing authorities to use special troops to clear demonstrations.

Sakharov blamed the April 9 tragedy in Tbilisi, the capital of Soviet Georgia, on such laws and on forces opposing perestroika.

Hundreds of academy members voted to support a resolution of its branch in Georgia that termed the April 9 clash an ″unprecedented massive beating of innocent people.″

At least 20 people died when soldiers moved into a crowd of demonstrators on Tbilisi’s main street. A commission is investigating charges that soldiers used poison gas, shovels and clubs.

The Academy of Sciences elects 20 of the 750 congress members who are elected from the Communist Party, professional and social organizations, and trade unions. The 1,500 others are elected from geographical districts.

In balloting for the geographical districts March 26, voters rejected dozens of top party and government officials, many of whom were running unopposed.

Repeat elections will be held May 14 for almost 200 seats that remain unfilled.