The U.S. Department of State has expressed condolences over the death of Yelena Bonner, a human rights activist and the widow of the late Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov.
Bonner died on June 18 in the United States at the age of 88 after a grave illness.
"We note with profound sadness the death of Yelena Bonner, an extraordinary voice among human rights defenders in the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation," U.S. State Department's spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement on Sunday.
"Bonner's own history, from the political arrests of her parents in the 1930s to the years of exile with her husband Andrey Sakharov, is an important part of the human rights community in Russia and around the world today," the statement said.
Bonner, whose parents were persecuted during the Stalin era, became actively involved in the Soviet dissident movement in the late 1960s and later co-founded the Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights organization.
She married prominent Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov in 1972 and stayed at his side, voicing sharp criticism of the Soviet authorities, until Sakharov's death in 1989.
Bonner served as a member of a state human rights commission under Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s, but quit her job in protest over Russia's military campaign against Chechen separatists in 1994-1996.
She lived with her family in the Boston area in the recent years, and continued to challenge the Russian authorities over the country's poor human rights record.
Bonner's daughter Tatiana Yankelevich said on Sunday that according to her mother's will, she would be cremated and her ashes interred at the Vostryakovo cemetery in Moscow beside her husband, mother and brother.
WASHINGTON, June 20 (RIA Novosti)