Yuri Yarim-Agaev was a 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.
On his arrival in the United States, Yarim-Agaev continued his professional work in physics at MIT, Stanford University, and Bellcore; he later worked in financial analytics at Bankers Trust and Deutsche Bank in New York.
Continuing his work in human rights activities, Yarim-Agaev founded the Center for Democracy in the USSR in 1984. This New York–based organization provided support to dissidents in the USSR, aided by the National Endowment for Democracy and various American foundations. The center also actively supported the first independent publications and opposition groups in Russia and other republics during the late 1980s.
By the end of the 1980s, Yarim-Agaev, along with Vladimir Bukovsky and Paruir Hairikyan, created Democracy and Independence, an organization devoted to promoting the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union into new independent states. The organization held international conferences in Paris (1989) and Prague (1990), at which dissidents and new democrats from the various Soviet republics began the discussing how power might be reallocated at the end of communism.
In 1991, by invitation of the new Yeltsin-led Russian government, Yarim-Agaev developed a comprehensive program to secure the free exchange of information in Russia.
Yarim-Agaev continues his involvement in human rights issues around the world and his professional work in science and finance. His recent publications deal with the failure of democracy in Russia and the situation in Iraq and North Korea.