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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kovalyov Undergoes Surgery

Russia's human rights champion, Sergei Kovalyov, has undergone heart surgery in the United States, Itar-Tass reported.


U.S. medical personnel said the four-hour operation Friday appeared to be successful, the report said, citing unnamed staff members in Kovalyov's parliament office.


No further information about the nature of the surgery or the clinic where it was performed was immediately available.


Kovalyov, 66, who reportedly suffers from ischemia, had a heart attack in July and was treated in Moscow's elite Central Clinical Hospital. He has since appeared in public several times, looking pale and weak.


His decision to seek treatment in the United States comes as President Boris Yeltsin prepares for heart surgery in Russia.


A doctor of biology, Kovalyov joined future Nobel Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov in 1967 as a human rights activist. In 1974, he was arrested for anti-Soviet activities, spending seven years in a Ural Mountains prison and three years in exile. In 1987, he returned to Moscow, and three years later was elected to the Russian Supreme Soviet, or parliament.


He subsequently was elected to Russia's parliament, where he headed the human rights commission along in addition to serving as Yeltsin's human rights commissioner.


Hard-line lawmakers ousted Kovalyov from his post because of his staunch condemnation of Russian war atrocities in Chechnya; he later quit as Yeltsin's human rights ombudsman over the war.