Ruth Bonner, 87, mother-in-law of Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov and the mother of human rights activist Yelena Bonner who was a victim of Josef Stalin's purges of the late 1930s, died in Moscow Dec. 25 after a stroke.

Ruth Bonner was an official of the Moscow City Communist Party committee when she was arrested in 1937, and spent the next 17 years in labor camp or in exile.

Her husband, Georg Alikhanov, then personnel director of the Comintern (the Communist International organization) had been arrested a few days earlier in a mass purge of senior officials of that organization. Like many Comintern colleagues, he was accused of espionage for several foreign countries and executed.

Yelena Bonner said her mother, who was among the first Stalin victims to be rehabilitated by Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev, was never able to work again after her release in 1954. Alikhanov was rehabilitated posthumously.

When Sakharov and his wife were sent into internal exile to the Volga city of Gorky in 1980 for their human rights activities, Ruth Bonner was allowed to go to the United States to live with her grandchildren who had emigrated in the 1970s.

She returned to live with the Sakharovs in June last year, six months after they were allowed to return to Moscow after Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev apparently intervened on their behalf.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include two grandchildren.