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Remembering Yelena Bonner

June 24, 2011 by Amanda Schnetzer

In a recent letter commemorating the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth, Russian human rights activist Yelena Bonner praised the former president for his ability “to relate practical steps to a few very basic principles dear to all humans, such as political and economic freedom, respect for human dignity, and a sense of responsibility.” Bonner, who passed away on June 18 of heart failure, had endured hunger, exile and persecution from Soviet authorities for her faithfulness to these beliefs. Together with her husband Andrei Sakharov, the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner, she withstood intimidation, condemned the Soviet state’s abuses and relayed to the world the plight of political prisoners. Unlike Sakharov, Bonner lived to witness the Soviet Union’s collapse. She remained a voice for freedom as Russia’s fledgling democracy sadly slid toward autocracy and a closed space for political competition, independent media and the rule of law. The experience of Bonner, Sakharov and fellow Soviet dissidents like Natan Sharansky provides inspiration and insight to the current generation of freedom advocates toiling for the cause of liberty—and reminds us all of the importance of standing with them.


Author

Amanda Schnetzer
Amanda Schnetzer

Amanda Schnetzer serves as Fellow, Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.

Previously, Amanda served as Director Global Initiatives after serving as founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative. In this role, she was responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries.

Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

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