Kremlin silent on Soviet dissident's death

20th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Russian government and President Dmitry Medvedev's office remained silent Monday more than a day after the death of leading Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, whose passing was noted worldwide.

Bonner, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov who lent her voice to those opposed to former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rule, died Saturday in Boston aged 88.

The US State Department called Bonner an "extraordinary voice" for human rights while European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso noted her "courage".

Reactions also poured in from other European capitals, with the seminal human right leader's passing also noted on Russian state television throughout the day Sunday.

But neither Putin, whose resignation Bonner demanded in an open letter last year, nor Medvedev -- who has promoted a more reformist agenda and who escaped her direct criticism -- had reacted to the news more than a day it was made public.

A Kremlin official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the Kremlin was unlikely to react publicly to Bonner's death. "It looks like no," he said.

Asked whether the government planned to issue condolences, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP he was not immediately able to comment.

Medvedev has on past occasions issued condolences statements following the deaths of popular or otherwise noteworthy figures, although Bonner's name has been rarely mentioned in the Russian media in recent years.

© 2011 AFP

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