MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian human rights activist and former dissident, Valery Abramkin, has died in Moscow after a long illness, Moscow Helsinki Group member Valery Borshchev told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
“He died yesterday evening… he had been ill for a long time, but hung on in there,” Borshchev said, adding “I had known him since the 1970s. We were linked by our dissident activity, and later by our human rights work. We fought for the law on public control over prisons.”
Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and veteran human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva said that Abramkin had devoted his life to easing conditions for those in prison.
“He had been ill for a very long time, he got TB in the camps, a resistant strain, and was in very poor health. But he courageously fought that illness and kept on working. For the last year or two he was housebound,” she told RIA Novosti.
Alexeyeva said that she had worked closely with Abramkin in the Presidential Council on Human Rights.
“I knew him very well, he was a very noble, pure person,” she said, adding that he had served three years in the prison camps in the Soviet Union.
“He saw what it was like for prisoners, and once released, he devoted his entire life to improving conditions, protecting prisoners’ rights and dealing with their daily life,” Alexeyeva said.
“He achieved a great deal” Alexeyeva said, “I know people will genuinely mourn him. He did a lot of good for a great many people.”
Mikhail Fedotov, Head of the Presidential Human Rights Council said that he was deeply saddened by the news, and noted that, although ailing and housebound, Abramkin had actively participated in the council’s work via telephone.