Carl Gershman: "The latest move against Russian NGOs is the law on so-called 'undesirable foreign organizations,' which shows that the regime intends to continue ratcheting up pressure on independent civil society until nothing is left"

posted 7 Mar 2016, 04:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Mar 2016, 04:11 ]
"The latest move against Russian NGOs is the law on so-called 'undesirable foreign organizations,' which shows that the regime intends to continue ratcheting up pressure on independent civil society until nothing is left. It seems likely that a similar process is planned for the political opposition. [...] There is also reason for hope in the continuing struggle of Russian NGOs, which have fought the new repressive laws every step of the way with unyielding determination. I was recently visited by the leader of a major Russian pro-democracy organization, who told me that Russian NGOs and activists can survive Putin’s repression. What they cannot survive, he said, is the termination of support by Western governments and private foundations. Ludmilla Alexeeva, the founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group and Russia’s most prominent human rights defender, wrote last week in The Washington Post that Russian activists 'are fighting for the values that attracted Western aid in the first place….Surely the project of defending freedom in Russia is worth pursuing while there are Russians willing to stand up for it.' I am humbled and amazed by the courage of these Russian democrats. Last May 26, just weeks after he spoke in the U.S. Congress at a symposium memorializing his friend Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Kara-Murza suffered a severe poisoning that resulted in multiple organ failure and a coma, and that nearly led to his death. Miraculously he survived – doctors had given him only a 5% chance to live - and he has now returned to Russia to continue his work for freedom, democracy, and human rights. We must never abandon someone like Vladimir Kara-Murza, and there are many others like him in Russia today who are prepared to defend their dignity and rights in the face of the most murderous and barbaric threats. If we forget them, our country will lose contact with its roots and values, and the result will be devastating for our national interests and moral identity. So let us do whatever we can to show them that they’re not alone, and that they have our full support and solidarity."

- Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy

Source: Carl Gershman, 'The Continuing Battle for Human Rights in Russia,' World Affairs [accessed 7 March 2018]

Photo: RFE/RL
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