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Russian human rights activist and opposition politician Valeria Novodvorskaya dies

Published time: July 12, 2014 21:26
Valeria Novodvorskaya (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

Valeria Novodvorskaya (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

Russian human rights activist and opposition politician Valeria Novodvorskaya has died after being hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a Moscow hospital, city authorities have confirmed. The 64-year-old suffered from a chronic disease.

She was admitted to the hospital in the early morning hours and reportedly died from "intensive toxic shock." The time and place of her burial is to be decided by her family.

Novodvorskaya was born in 1950 in Belarus. She was part of the opposition movement against Russia's various leaders and administrations for most of her life.

At the age of 19, Novodvorskaya distributed leaflets containing her poems at the State Kremlin Palace (which was then the Kremlin Palace of Congresses), criticizing the ruling communist party and its introduction of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia.

She was arrested by the KGB in 1970, which claimed she was mentally ill. She was then forced to undergo medical treatment for two years.

When freed, Novodvorskaya continued her anti-communist activity. She participated in the dissident activity of samizdat – the underground copying and distribution of censored publications in the USSR.

Novodvorskaya welcomed the fall of the Soviet Union and supported the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. But she continued being an opposition politician, and in the 1990s stood behind the radical liberal Democratic Union party, formed in the late 1980s.

For decades, Valeria Novodvorskaya was among the most renowned public figures in Russia, known for her strong opinions on a number of political matters. She was against the introduction of troops to Chechnya and took Georgia's side in the South Ossetia war in August 2008.

As an independent journalist, Novodvorskaya wrote for various media outlets, working on articles up until her final days. Her last publication was in New Times magazine, dated July 12.