Yelena Bonner, RIP

Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, and a prominent dissident in her own right has passed away:

Yelena Bonner, a rights activist and widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, has died, her daughter said Sunday. She was 88….

Bonner grew famous through her marriage to Sakharov, the Soviet Union’s leading dissident, but she carved out her own reputation as a tireless human rights campaigner in the face of relentless hostility from Soviet authorities….

Both suffered constant harassment, and Soviet officialdom regularly made caustic, personal attacks against Bonner, accusing her of being a foreign agent who bullied her husband, the father of the Soviet atomic bomb [actually hydrogen bomb – IS], into turning against his country.

But the attacks only seemed to strengthen their resolve, and neither ever stopped calling for greater personal freedom for Soviet citizens despite the huge personal cost.,,,

After Sakharov died in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, Bonner continued to champion human rights, but was less and less visible, and her health began to deteriorate…..

Nonetheless, she edited her husband’s memoirs, which were released in 1997, and still occasionally spoke out against President Boris Yeltsin’s government, denouncing Russia’s bungled war in Chechnya and the shortcomings of the country’s young democracy.

In recent years, Bonner lent the weight of her voice to those opposing the leadership of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer who has restored many of the Soviet-era powers of the security services. In March 2010, hers was the first signature on a petition calling for Putin to go.