In Memory: Human Rights Defender Valery Abramkin
Valery Ambramkin, former political prisoner and human rights defender, died in Moscow on 25 January. He was 66 and had suffered from tuberculosis contracted (together with other serious illnesses) while serving a labour camp sentence for “anti-Soviet propaganda”.
Valery Abramkin was co-founder of the Moscow Centre for Prison Reform (together with Andrei Sakharov) and worked tirelessly to promote prisoners’ rights and reform of the penitentiary system. He was also a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
His first arrest in Soviet times was in 1979. After a year spent in prison, he was sentenced to 3 years labour camp from where he regularly passed on information about human rights violations. This earned him a second three-year sentence under the same charge of anti-Soviet propaganda.
In 1985 he was sent into exile to a village in the Tverskaya oblast and was only allowed to return to Moscow in 1989.
Back in Moscow and to the end of his life he remained very active in defence of human rights.