Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9189

October 15, 1997

Elena Bonner To Discuss Human Rights in Former Soviet Union at Library of Congress

WHO: Elena Bonner

WHAT: Will discuss human rights in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union in a free lecture

WHEN: 6 p.m. October 22

WHERE: Mumford Room of the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.

BACKGROUND: Dr. Bonner is the widow of noted Russian physicist, 1975 Nobel Peace prize laureate and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, who died in December 1989. A longtime human rights activist herself, she was a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Monitoring Group, whose goal was to track Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. In 1982 the group's activities were stopped by an extensive KGB crackdown that resulted in the arrest or exile abroad of most of its members. In 1984 she was sentenced to exile, but was allowed to remain in the closed city of Gorky, together with Sakharov, who had been banished to that city in 1980. After the couple's release in December 1986, Dr. Bonner became a key supporter of the Soviet Union's remaining political prisoners.

Since her husband's death, Dr. Bonner has continued the campaign for democracy and human rights in Russia. She joined the defenders of the Russian parliament during the August 1991 coup attempt, and supported President Yeltsin during the constitutional crisis of 1993. She served on President Yeltsin's Commission on Human Rights from 1993 until December 29, 1994, when she resigned in protest of the war in Chechnya.

Dr. Bonner has also been instrumental in the establishment of several institutions to honor the memory of her husband and continue his legacy, particularly the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (Russia); the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (USA); the Sakharov Archives in Moscow, opened in 1994; the Sakharov Museum and Center in Moscow, opened in 1996; and the Andrei Sakharov Archives and Center at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., established in 1993.

Dr. Bonner is the author of Alone Together (Alfred Knopf, 1986) and Mothers and Daughters (Alfred Knopf, 1992).

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PR 97-176
ISSN 0731-3527

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