Sakharov's widow, Yelena Bonner, dies

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The Independent US

Yelena Bonner, a Russian rights activist and widow of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, has died, her daughter said yesterday. She was 88. Ms Bonner died of heart failure on Saturday afternoon in Boston, said her daughter, Tatiana Yankelevich. She 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.

The couple's cramped, three-room apartment in Moscow was the unofficial headquarters of the Soviet dissident movement. Both suffered constant harassment. Officials accused Ms Bonner of being a foreign agent who bullied her husband, the father of the Soviet atomic bomb, into turning against his country.

"I hope to live out my life until the end worthy of the Russian culture in which I've spent my life," Ms Bonner wrote in her autobiography.

After Sakharov died in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, Ms Bonner continued to champion human rights. In recent years, she lent the weight of her voice to those opposing the leadership of Vladimir Putin.