Once freed from Gorki’s exile, Andrei Sakharov was able to fulfill a great desire: to meet John Paul II. It was Don Sergio Mercanzin, the soul and director of Ecumenical Russia, who made the undertaking possible, despite a thousand difficulties. Who, one hundred years after the birth of the physicist father of the Soviet thermonuclear bomb, tells Adnkronos that historic encounter. “First I took his wife, Elena Bonner: she came to Italy for health reasons and the condition for her coming was that she didn’t see anyone. But she wanted more than ever to meet the Pontiff”. Fr Mercanzin used all his diplomatic skills, managing to overcome every difficulty and threats of reprisals: “The clause of the meeting was that no photos were published. Thus even the negatives were destroyed. The Pope said to Elena Bonner: ‘When Will I be able to see her husband? ‘. The Pontiff knew very well the figure of Sahkarov “. Thus, once freed from exile, the meeting took place. “It was something moving”, the journalist priest still remembers. Don Mercanzin also brought Sakharov to Craxi and in the Ecumenical Russia office there was also a meeting with the head of the Greek-Catholics whom Sakharov promised to protect “and so he did” , says Don Sergio Mercanzin. Who, after so many years, makes a bitter consideration on how much “this man has been forgotten, both as a scientist and as a defender of human rights. He was one of the best men I have known. He represented firmness. I loved Sahkarov. even before knowing him. “Don Sergio Mercanzin delivers another memory of Sahkarov:” When Gorbachev freed him from exile, he said to him: ‘You can go back to that one there’, referring to his wife Elena Bonner who he could not tolerate. she’s my wife, not that one. “A forgotten scientist and staunch defender of rights, he said to himself. “Only the Sahkarov Prize awarded every year for freedom of thought – observes the journalist – director of Ecumenical Russia – does some justice to Sahkarov’s merit. He deserves much more than a film, it is a knowledge that still remains”.