Ludmila Alekseeva: We have reasons to celebrate

posted 14 May 2011, 05:49 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Jul 2011, 08:32 ]
Opposition spells politics and we are not a political party. So we are not in opposition. We have to interact with the authorities, we force them into cooperation even if they do not want it. Our main purpose is to force the authorities to observe the Constitution and human rights and to respect our citizens’ dignity.

“This [setting up the Moscow Helsinki Group in May 1976 - ed.] was Yuri Orlov’s idea. He thought up and formed this group, encouraging people to become its members himself. He told me recently and I am very proud of this, I was the first he asked to join the group. He spoke to people privately, calling them outside because not only our telephones but also our flats were bugged. We all realized that we were in danger of the most serious repressions. This is how 11 Soviet citizens, having no rights just like the rest of the population, established this group and all we had as our assets was two run-down typewriters. [...] People from many places came to see us. Religious people - Baptists, Adventists, Catholics and Orthodox Christians - complained about the violation of the freedom of religion. Members of national movements, such as the Crimean Tatars, complained that they were not allowed to return to their historical motherland in the Crimea from where they were exiled in 1944 at Stalin’s decree. Jewish people told us they wanted to go to live in Israel but their right to leave the country was violated, they were not let out. Ethnic Germans also came to us. Even though they lived in Russia since the times of Catherine the Great, the Germans were harassed for national reasons. They wanted to leave for West Germany but Soviet authorities put spokes in their wheels. [...] Opposition spells politics and we are not a political party. So we are not in opposition. We have to interact with the authorities, we force them into cooperation even if they do not want it. Our main purpose is to force the authorities to observe the Constitution and human rights and to respect our citizens’ dignity.” - from Svetlana Kalmykova, 'Ludmila Alekseeva: We have reasons to celebrate', The Voice of Russia, 12 May 2011. 

Moscow Helsinki Group, founded in 1976, is the oldest human rights organization in Russia and turned 35 on the 12th of May.

Ludmila Alekseeva lives in Moscow and is chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group. She is a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights.
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