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Soviet-Era Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky Dies Aged 76

Vladimir Bukovsky

Prominent Soviet-era dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, who helped expose the Soviet Union's abuse of psychiatry to silence critics, has died in Britain aged 76.

Bukovsky, whose health had been poor in recent years, died of cardiac arrest in a hospital in Cambridge late on October 27, said the Bukovsky Center, a U.S.-based volunteer organization linked to him.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Bukovsky spent 12 years in Soviet prison camps and psychiatric clinics on charges of "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda."

He was among the first to report the Soviets' use of psychiatric institutions to punish political prisoners.

He lived in Britain since 1976, when the Soviet government exchanged him for Chilean communist leader Luis Corvalan.

Bukovsky was harshly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused the Kremlin of involvement in the 2006 radiation-poisoning death of former Russian intelligence officer Aleksandr Litvinenko in London.

Child Porn Charges

Bukovsky attempted to run in the 2008 Russian presidential election, which was ultimately won by Putin’s handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

He told RFE/RL that Russian Embassy officials had refused to renew his Russian passport because of his anti-Putin comments.

Bukovsky went on trial in Britain in December 2016 on charges of creating and possessing indecent images of children.

Last year, a British judge ruled he was too ill to stand trial, saying he suffered from "serious illnesses of the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys."

Bukovsky, who faced 11 charges related to the allegations, had pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing in 2015.

Bukovsky held a hunger strike in 2018 to protest the charges, which he said he "absolutely denies."

Bukovsky also appealed to the High Court of Justice in London, saying he was a victim of a smear campaign by Russia's Federal Security Service.

With reporting by AFP