Svetlana Gannushkina - with Memorial, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize

posted 6 Oct 2011, 01:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Oct 2011, 23:40 ]
The situation is getting worse. It's thrown me into horror. Nationalism has been put forward as 'an opiate for the people' and it will lead to the break-up of Russia. [...] It's our duty to challenge this system. They want democracy only for themselves – but it doesn't work that way. 

"[Memorial] has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize alongside co-founder Svetlana Gannushkina, a 69-year-old firebrand who leads Russian attempts to battle the growing xenophobia afflicting the country. In addition to sitting on Memorial's board, Gannushkina heads the Committee for Civil Assistance, an NGO devoted to migrants' rights. 'The situation is getting worse,' Gannushkina said. 'It's thrown me into horror. Nationalism has been put forward as "an opiate for the people" and it will lead to the break-up of Russia.' On a recent afternoon, Gannushkina's office was packed with migrants – men and women from ex-Soviet countries seeking to find a better life, and work, in Russia. Instead they are often met with police brutality, social violence and exclusion. 'I've always been that way – I can't stay out of other people's business,' Gannushkina said, explaining why a trained mathematician would become one of Russia's leading human rights activists. 'It's our duty to challenge this system,' Gannushkina said, referring to Russia under Putin. 'They want democracy only for themselves – but it doesn't work that way.' " - from 'Nobel Peace Prize: The Contenders', The Guardian, 6 October 2011

Svetlana Gannushkina lives in Moscow. A member of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, she heads the Civic Assistance Committee for refugees and IDPs and Memorial's Migration Rights Network.
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