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Yelena Bonner: Brave Woman

  • June 29th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

bonner-sakharov-resize.jpgThe death of the former Soviet human rights campaigner Yelena Bonner this month (18.6.11), aged 88,  brought memories of tribulations of the recent past.

Yelena Bonner was already an activist when she met her second husband, the late “dissident” and  nuclear physicist, Andrei Sakharov, in 1970 – picture, together.

She had been able to get to Western Europe for medical treatment in 1975, and so represented him in Oslo, at the presentation of his Nobel Peace Prize.

When he was sent into internal exile in the city of Gorky (1980-86), a sentence of isolation as foreigners were banned from that region, his wife acted as link to the outside world.

The couple, with millions of others, achieved freedom after 1991, though Yelena Bonner late in her life became a fierce critic of Russia’s intervention policy in Chechnya.

She was prominent in the Helsinki movement, campaigning for freedoms agreed to on paper by the Soviet bloc, in negotiations with the West, (in exchange for non-intervention from the West, in internal politics of the communist states).

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said:

“I want to pay tribute to the courage she showed in standing up for fundamental freedoms and human dignity that people worldwide demand.

“She stood side by side with her husband in the fight for political freedom, democracy and human rights in the former Soviet Union, and all over the world.”


EC, Brussels, Statement of President Barroso following the passing away of Yelena Bonner, MEMO/11/427, 19.6.11.


Yelena Bonner with Andrei Sakharov, 1977, wikipedia