Published: Tue, December 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Ex-Soviet dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva dies aged 91

Ex-Soviet dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva dies aged 91

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a prominent Soviet and Russian rights activist, has died at the age of 91 in Moscow, the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights said on Saturday. Russian media say she graduated from a university in Moscow and worked as a history teacher before joining human rights activities in the 1960s. The president "greatly appreciates Lyudmila Alexeyeva's contribution to the development of civil society in Russian Federation and had great respect for her point of view on several issues concerning the life of the country", Peskov said.

Putin has extended his condolences to the rights activist's family, he added.

She founded the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976 to protect human rights, along with Soviet physicist and 1975 Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov and others.

Russia's rights ombudswoman Tatiana Moskalkova mourned her loss.

She died around 1630 GMT Saturday evening in a Moscow hospital, he said.

In a career emblematic of the country's turbulent history, she defended human rights in the Soviet Union from the 1950s, and continued to do so in Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation. "There used to be something like that, never", said the human rights activist at the time.

She campaigned against trials for dissidents, losing her job as a science publisher and enduring numerous searches and interrogations at the hands of the KGB. Facing increasing threats, in 1977 Alexeyeva was forced to leave to the United States, where she continued to be involved in the dissident movement. "But I have successors, many wonderful people who can work and who want to work for this goal", she said. With 82 years, she was arrested as she took part in an Anti-Putin Demonstration.

She slammed Moscow's seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 for "bringing shame on my country".

By the time they met again in 2006, Putin was riding high and walking with a swagger after on an oil-fuelled economic boom that made him hugely popular in Russian Federation.

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