OSCE hails Bonner as true rights activist

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Europe's top security body, the OSCE, on Sunday paid tribute to late Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, hailing her as a true human rights activist.

"I am saddened to learn about the passing of Yelena Bonner, a true activist and defender of human rights," said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Andronius Azubalis whose country currently chairs the OSCE.

Bonner, a tireless critic of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, died in her new home in Boston in the United States on Saturday, aged 88, after undergoing heart surgery for a third time.

"With her husband Andrei Sakharov, Ms Bonner was a symbol of Soviet dissidence paying a key role in the spreading of the ideals of human rights under the Helsinki accords", which eventually led to the creation of the OSCE, said Azubalis.

The Vienna-based OSCE was created in 1973 at the height of the Cold War to ease dialogue between East and West and is the world's top security organisation withy 56 member states.

© 2011 AFP

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