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American Co-Founder of WWF-Russia and Long-Serving Environmentalist Dies in Accident

Laura Williams (Leonid Sverdlov / TASS)

Laura Williams, the U.S. born co-founder of WWF-Russia and a pioneer conservationist, died in a horse-riding accident on Sunday.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization that focuses on wilderness preservation. Williams, a Colorado-native who moved to Moscow in 1993, helped establish the NGO's Russian branch in the 1990s and launched a WWF office in Kamchatka in 2006.

Embracing the Unexpected

“It is impossible to describe how much she meant, and how much she has done for the Fund. The story of WWF Russia began with Laura,” the organization wrote in an online statement on Sunday.

According to WWF, prior to the accident, Williams had set up a project called “Human and Horse” which aimed “to promote the idea of equality between animals and humans.” 

Williams' husband, the Russian nature photographer and conservationist Igor Shpilenok, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that she had died in an unfortunate accident in the saddle.

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