Yuri Yarim-Agaev is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, as well as a scientist and human rights activist. After receiving his degree in 1972 from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, he worked at the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He joined the Moscow Helsinki Group (founded in 1976) and became a leader of the human rights movement in Russia, working closely with Andrei Sakharov and other dissidents. As a consequence of his dissident activities, he was forced into exile in the summer of 1980. The Yarim-Agaev papers, which document his career and activities, are housed in the Hoover Institution Archives. This collection is currently closed, but we have many other collections related to Russia and the former Soviet Union.
On July 15, 2011, Yarim-Agaev was a guest on Uncommon Knowledge.Tracing his transformation from Communist to dissident, he stressed communism's inherently evil nature and hostility to the West, asserting that "the cold war was inevitable." He also rejected the notion that the Soviet Union crumbled under its own weight and gave little credit to Gorbachev: "Those reforms made by Gorbachev were not caused by his love of freedom or any human right but by sheer necessity to save the communist system." The Soviet Union fell, he avers, because it was pushed by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II.