Edward Kline, ‘Silent Partner’ in Aiding Soviet Dissidents, Dies at 85

“After I met Sakharov in 1976, and he agreed to have Random House publish his autobiography,” Mr. Bernstein wrote in an email, “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.”

Mr. Kline was also the president of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, a human-rights organization based in Springfield, Va.

Mr. Kline was so close to Sakharov and Ms. Bonner, his wife, that in 1981 he was a stand-in bride for their son’s wedding in Montana (one of the few states that allow proxy marriages) after the Soviet authorities had refused to let his fiancée leave the country to marry him.

The couple’s four-year appeal that the fiancée be allowed to join her husband-by-proxy was finally granted after the Sakharovs mounted a 17-day hunger strike.

Mr. Kline also established Chekhov Publishing in New York, which printed books in Russian by Joseph Brodsky, Nadezhda Mandelstam and other authors who were banned in the Soviet Union. The books were spirited past Soviet border guards to grateful readers hungry for alternatives to spoon-fed propaganda.

With another dissident, Valery Chalidze, he meticulously documented rights violations by the Soviet government. The two established Khronika Press, a Russian-language publisher whose name was inspired by the leading underground human rights bulletin in the Soviet Union, the Chronicle of Current Events.

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Credit
Ivan Kovalev

“Ed was an unsung hero,” said another collaborator, Stephen F. Cohen, emeritus professor of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton. “He wanted it that way. But now there should be a song.”

Edward Kline was born on Feb. 7, 1932, in Manhattan to the former Sylvia Halper and George Kline, who, with his brother, started a department store chain, Kline Brothers, in the Midwest.

He graduated from the Horace Mann School and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale in 1952.

Mr. Kline was in graduate school getting an advanced degree in math when his father died suddenly, leading him to take over the family business, which had its headquarters in New York City.

In addition to his wife, the former Jill Herman, he is survived by their daughter,…

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