11 March 2017
Source: Agora International
The prestigious award was presented to the head of AGORA, Pavel Chikov, by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Today in Oslo, the Agora International human rights group was awarded the Lindebrekke Prize for human rights activism. The prize is named after Sjur Lindebrekke, founder of the Norwegian conservative party. The prestigious award was presented to the head of Agora, Pavel Chikov, by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Afterwards, Chikov delivered an acceptance speech:
“The first time in my life I met with Norwegians was in South Dakota, USA. I was studying public administration there, and knew there was a large Norwegian community. These guys drank a lot, were always very serious, and never laughed. Rather like Russians.
"At that point I was already working in the field of human rights. It was sixteen years ago, when George W. Bush had only just been inaugurated. Putin had become president of Russia, and opposition media were already under attack.
"That was the year when I first felt that the situation was worsening in both countries. At least, I felt then that Europe was the best place.
"Now this is a complicated time for democratic values and human rights all around the world. Today we see how even the best places are facing a new agenda in the field of human rights – we are seeing waves of migration, hate crimes, and incoming violence from other nations that prompts fierce domestic reactions. We also see how authoritarian governments export hostile policies and try to use this moment in time to further undermine democratic values.
"Russian artists cannot enjoy freedom even in Norway, because they may face problems on returning home.
"In Russia, Norwegian journalists are beaten with impunity, as happened a year ago in the North Caucasus, and are expelled from the country and banned from returning for five years, as happened with Thomas Nilsen of the Barents Observer.
"The head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the leading Norwegian human rights organisation, has already been banned from visiting Russia and meeting with old friends for many years.
"The president of the Sami parliament of the Kola Peninsula, Valentina Sovkina, is beaten and robbed and stopped on the Russian-Norwegian border near Kirkenes, in order to prevent her from participating in the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, in New York.
"Agora’ lawyers work on all these issues. This is not because we go looking for them. It is because this intimidation affects everyone; everyone will feel insecure until there are places where things will be OK.
"In our tiny world, we are all closely interrelated.
"This is why it’s important to have friends in Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø. We maintain close ties with the Rafto Fund, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the University of Oslo and the Human Rights House Network. That is why I’m proud to accept this award.
Translated by Anna Bowles