Lifelong work for political and religious freedom in the Soviet Union
Yelena Bonner (1923-2011) was awarded the 1991 Rafto Prize for her promotion of human rights in the former Soviet Union and contemporary Russia.
During the 1940s - 1950s Yelena Bonner helped political prisoners and their families. She became a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976. In 1984 she was sentenced to five years of exile in Gorky after helping her husband, Andrei Sakharov, who was there in exile, to bring his writings back to Moscow.
After the death of her husband in 1989, she established the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, and the Sakharov Archives in Moscow to continue to fight for human rights. Bonner remained outspoken on democracy and human rights in Russia, in particular the authoritarian politics of Kremlin.
Yelena Bonner died of heart failure in Boston, USA, aged 88, according to her daughter, Tatiana Yankelevich.