Russian human rights activist Yelena Bonner has died aged 88.
She had come to prominence through her marriage to Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet Union’s leading dissident, but carved out her own reputation in the face of relentless hostility from Soviet authorities.
The tough talking Bonner met her husband, the shy nuclear scientist, outside a dissident trial in 1970 and went on to become his only contact with the outside world during nearly seven years of internal exile.
Both suffered constant harassment and the authorities regularly made personal attacks on Bonner accusing her of being a foreign agent who bullied her husband to turn against his country.
In 1975 Sakharov became the first Soviet citizen to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was denied permission to travel to Oslo and his wife received the award on his behalf.
The couple’s resolve to speak out and call for greater personal freedom for Soviet citizens never stopped despite huge personal cost. Bonner was born in Armenia to a Jewish father.
Her husband died in 1989. In her autobiography she wrote: “Mine has been the difficult lot and happy fate to be the wife and friend of Andrei Sakharov.”
In recent years Yelena Bonner lent the weight of her voice to those opposing the leadership of Vladimir Putin.