Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the family of respected human rights activist Valery Abramkin, who died in Moscow on January 25 at age 66.
According to a statement posted on the Kremlin's website on January 26, Putin praised Abramkin for "consistently advocating his own, independent point of view."
Abramkin, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and director of the Moscow Center for Prison Reform, labored for years to promote the rights and welfare of convicts and to urge improvements in Russia's penitentiary system.
Abramkin, a nuclear scientist by training, suffered from an extreme form of tuberculosis that he contracted while serving six years in Soviet prisons on charges of "anti-Soviet propaganda."
He co-founded the Moscow Center for Prison Reform in 1988 together with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov.