Kremlin silent on Soviet dissident's death

20th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Kremlin remained mum Monday more than a day after the globally noted death of leading Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, as President Dmitry Medvedev relayed condolences indirectly through an envoy.

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

But neither Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose resignation Bonner demanded in an open letter last year, nor Medvedev -- who has promoted a more reformist agenda and escaped her direct criticism -- personally reacted to the news.

Medvedev on Monday met his human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who later told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency the president had "expressed his deep condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased."

Lukin went on to praise Bonner's "public work."

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

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

© 2011 AFP

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