Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yelena Bonner Dies in Boston

"I am a Muscovite...I am a Jew of 'Caucasian nationality.' In 1941, I defended my country and in 1945, I wept with joy. In 1953, I protested against the so-called Doctors' Plot. For many years, since the spring of 1937, I waited for my mother somehow, some way to return from the gulag camp where she'd been sent. And when she returned and rang the doorbell, I didn't recognize her. I took her for a beggar."

"And all these years, my dreams have been filled with tears for my father, who was shot dead. My father had a stomach ulcer and I remember how in the evening he'd call me and say: 'Lusya-jan, prepare me a hot water bottle. My stomach is killing me.' And I cried for my grandmother, who raised three children orphaned by the 1937 Great Terror and who took her last breath during the blockade of Leningrad. And all my life I tormented myself -- was I to blame that my mother was arrested, that I didn't recognize her? Was I to blame that my father was shot in the head, that the headstone for him in the Vostryakovskoye Cemetery marks an empty grave? Was I guilty for not remaining in blockaded Leningrad and dying together with my grandmother?"

"But I had to go and save my motherland! The motherland. And after that there was no strength left to save my family. There isn't even enough strength to go prepare a hot water bottle. But how does one save one's motherland? I didn't know then and I don't know now. Count me among those who come out to Pushkin Square on December 26. Consider me one of those who came out to once again save the motherland -- even though my legs no longer have the strength."---Yelena Bonner, RFE/RL (6-19-11)

The pediatrician Yelena Bonner, a great Russian human rights activist and the wife of physicist and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, died in Boston on Saturday, June 18, 2011. She was 88 years old.

Bonner's second husband, Andrei Sakharov (d. 12-14-89), was the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb and a hero of the Soviet Union. When he became a dissident, the regime appealed to anti-Semitic sentiments in the public and claimed that Sakharov had been led astray by "the Jewess Bonner." The family believes that the KGB gave Bonner's infant grandson a poisoned cookie that nearly killed him.

The KGB and Soviet politicians constantly hounded and persecuted this great scientist and humanitarian. They defamed him in the press and drugged him in order to steal his memoirs while he was exiled in Gorky. The KGB official who was in charge of this campaign of repression is Filipp Bobkov, the former head of the dissident-hunting 5th directorate of the KGB.

In America, the climate scientist Michael Mann is being vilified on the Internet and persecuted by Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli, and criminals stole the private emails of British and American climate scientists.
In his suit against the EPA, Attorney General Cuccinelli even cited an article from the official Russian government media in order to malign climate scientists.

The Guardian (6-19-11) and The New York Times (6-19-11) carry Bonner's obituary.

The New York Times (6-19-11) reports:

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, into turning against his country...

Her efforts made her a favorite target of Soviet journalist Nikolai Yakovlev, who portrayed her as a Zionist and CIA agent trying to undermine the Soviet system.

In a particularly nasty 1983 magazine article, Yakovlev accused her of imposing her sympathies on Sakharov, turning him against his children and his country and taking control of his finances.

Bonner said Yakovlev's writings led to "thousands of irate, malicious letters which we receive recommending Sakharov 'to repent,' 'divorce the Jewess' and 'to live by his own mind, not by Bonnerovsky.'

The Washington Post (6-19-11) reports:

Yelena G. Bonner, the Russian human rights activist who was the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei D. Sakharov and came under repression by the secret police, died of heart failure in Boston on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Mrs. Bonner, decorated for valor and wounds during World War II, was 88. She had been hospitalized since Feb. 21, her daughter Tatiana Yankelevich told the A.P.

Mrs. Bonner was a founder of one of the most active rights groups in the Soviet dissident movement of the 1970s, the Helsinki Monitoring Committee. The organization, which for a time disbanded in 1982 after most of its members were jailed for political crimes against the state, sought to publicize Soviet violations of human rights guarantees made when Moscow signed the 1975 Helsinki Agreement on European Cooperation and Security.

The Helsinki Act recognized Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in return for Soviet assurance to nurture fundamental freedoms, such as free speech, assembly and religion.

The Helsinki Act caused numerous unofficial rights groups to form, and they became an unusual phenomenon in the life of the Soviet capital in the mid-1970s. There were groups delving into invalids' rights, religious oppression, political abuse of psychiatry, workers' rights and emigration demands.

Mrs. Bonner signed hundreds of zayevlenie, or statements, supporting victims of KGB reprisals. She and her husband traveled through Siberia and remote parts of Russia, visiting courtrooms and jails to aid imprisoned activists.

By the decade's end, however, many activists were in prison or labor camps. The luckier were expelled from Russia or sent into internal exile far from Moscow. Mr. Sakharov was arrested in January 1980, and was confined to Gorky, 250 miles east of Moscow. Mrs. Bonner had a special status as wife of Mr. Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. She was allowed to travel to Moscow until May 1984, when the KGB detained her in Gorky on allegations she had committed anti-state crimes.[See the full text of the article about this brave woman.]

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