Edward Kline, ‘silent partner’ in aiding Soviet dissidents


Credit: NYTimes

Democracy advocates are mourning the passing of a modest, unsung but highly effective supporter of Soviet dissidents.

Edward Kline, a Yale math major who, bored with the department store chain he inherited, devoted his career to supporting Soviet dissidents in Russia and promoting their cause abroad, died on June 24 in Manhattan. He was 85, The New York Times reports:

Mr. Kline became the principal contact in the United States for Andrei D. Sakharov, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Russian physicist and human rights campaigner who was confined in domestic exile in the Volga River city of Gorky, east of Moscow, from 1980 through 1986.

“After I met Sakharov in 1976, and he agreed to have Random House publish his autobiography,” said Random House president and human rights advocate Robert L. Bernstein, who shepherded Sakharov’s memoirs into publication. “Ed became invaluable in keeping us in touch and in the accrual editing process. When Sakharov was unable to attend his Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Elena Bonner asked Ed and me and our wives to meet her in Oslo, which we did.”

Kline (right) remained an active supporter of Russian democrats, using the 20th anniversary of Sakharov’s death to protest the treatment of Yuri Samodurov, a human rights activist and former Director of Moscow’s Sakharov Center, and Andrei Erofeyev, a curator at the State Tretyakov Gallery, who were put on trial for allegedly violating Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code (inciting national and religious hatred).

Kline was also the president of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, a human-rights group supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.


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