The beginnings of Pugwash overlapped with the first stage of the process of de-Stalinization, which had a marked effect on science and on scientific cooperation across the Iron Curtain. In the international context of the late 1950s, Pugwash enabled Soviet officials and scientists to play an active part in the international community at the very point when the World Peace Council (a Soviet front organization) was experiencing its deepest crisis. Despite political pressure from Moscow, the various Academies of Sciences in East European countries, which represented Pugwash national committees in their respective societies, managed to benefit from these circumstances. They developed important contacts with Western analysts such as Henry Kissinger, Paul Doty, and Marshall Shulman. This cooperation helped to shape the research agenda in Eastern Europe, though its scope was still controlled by the USSR. Nevertheless, after 1975—and most importantly after 1982—Pugwash managed to establish contact with non-Communist peace activists and dissident movements in Eastern Europe.

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