sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

June 23, 2011

More About Yelena Bonner

Filed under: politics, Russia — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:42 pm

A few days ago I wrote a post about passing away of a Yelena Bonner, a Soviet human rights activist and a wife of Nobel Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov.  I noted that most obituaries are a bit lacking, but here is a very good one by Cathy Young, another Russian emigre:

There was a time when moral giants walked the earth. One of them, Soviet dissident Elena Bonner — widow of the great physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov — left us on Sunday at the age of 88. A model of courage and principle, Bonner was one of my heroes from the days when I was a teenager in the Soviet Union and my parents listened to news of Sakharov and Bonner on banned foreign radio broadcasts. She was also a personal hero I had the privilege to meet: Four years ago, we had a long talk at Bonner’s apartment in Brookline, Mass., when I interviewed her for a feature for the Weekly Standard.

A devoted partner to her husband, Bonner was much more than his helpmate. A former World War II army nurse, the daughter of a father executed in Stalin’s purges and a mother who endured 10 years in the Gulag camps, Bonner was already active in Soviet Russia’s budding human rights movement when she met Sakharov in 1970. Her influence likely helped radicalize his opposition to the Soviet regime.

After their marriage in 1972, Bonner became the Kremlin propaganda machine’s scapegoat for Sakharov’s scandalous fall from grace as a top Soviet scientist. She was attacked, with blatantly anti-Semitic and misogynist overtones, as a wily Zionist and a gold-digging seductress. Bonner remained unbowed. In the 1980s, she served as her husband’s link to the world during his exile in the town of Gorky, until she herself was forced to share that exile.

Read the whole thing.  Young talks of Bonner’s activism after the death of Sakharov and the couple’s legacy.

And moms (and dads) if your children are assigned to write a report about an outstanding woman, why not suggest Yelena Bonner?



  1. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about this woman until now. Thanks, Edge.

    Comment by Karen Howes — June 24, 2011 @ 5:23 am

  2. […] Edge of the Sandbox – More About Yelena Bonner […]

    Pingback by Last night’s links – 6/25/2011 « Fleece Me — June 25, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  3. […] Generals” collaborate with “Adolph Christie” to shaft “middle class” unioneersMore About Yelena BonnerWho Didn’t See This Coming? Oh Wait, The EUrotardsBob Casey, D(uh) – Pa, Successfully Channels […]

    Pingback by Sunday Links: Crash Edition — June 25, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  4. youre right…where have all the heros and heroines gone? have a super Sunday my friend!:)

    Comment by Angel — June 26, 2011 @ 7:56 am

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