Russian Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky in Coma at German Clinic

Russian pro-democracy activists and BBC’s Russian service report that 72-year-old veteran Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky is in an artificial coma in a private German  clinic after a difficult emergency surgery on his heart. Following a 9-hours-long surgery where two of Mr. Bukovsky’s heart valves were replaced, the doctors said the operation “went successfully”, and while his life is still at risk, his condition is no longer “critical”. He is expected to remain unconscious for the next 72 hours, as doctors continue to fight for his life.

Mr. Bukovsky, a legendary Russian dissident and pro-democracy activist,  has been seriously ill since last year, when he contracted a rare infection which subsequently damaged his heart valves. The doctors had to resort to a risky emergency operation after his condition rapidly deteriorated this week, with failure of multiple internal organs.

Earlier this Spring, Mr. Bukovsky was charged with making and possessing indecent images in the UK, accusations that were met with suspicion by Russian human rights and pro-democracy activists given Mr. Bukovsky’s critical views on the Putin regime. This Tuesday, a court hearing in Cambridge, where Mr. Bukovsky had to answer charges of making and possessing indecent images, had to be postponed as he was unfit to attend.

Pavel Stroilov, a close friend and a fellow political exile from Russia, said: “I am in Germany with Vladimir’s family, eagerly waiting for further news. We are appalled by cynical insinuations which appeared in certain media outlets, to the effect that Vladimir fled from justice under a pretext of illness. This disingenuous campaign to blacken his name with absurd but toxic allegations is being mounted at a well-chosen moment when Vladimir is physically unable to defend himself.

“Thankfully, he was just well enough to deny the charges when they first appeared. To those who care about the truth and know anything about Vladimir, his word is good enough”.

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