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Lyudmila Alexeyeva will be remembered as a pioneering figure in the field of human rights. In 1976, she helped launch the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) – the first major independent human rights movement in the Soviet Union – to demand that the Soviet government honor its international human rights commitments under the Helsinki Final Act. She dedicated her life to activism, motivated by her belief that independent civil society and strong institutions are crucial safeguards for democracy and human rights. A staunch advocate for independent labor unions, she returned to Russia in the early 1990s after 16 years of exile in the West to assist the growth of the country’s nascent organized labor movement. The bold leadership of Lyudmila and the MHG were crucial to the growth and development of Russian civil society, and throughout her life Lyudmila remained an unwavering beacon and example for Russian activists, appearing at protests, conducting solidarity pickets, and speaking out for victims of human rights violations.
A new generation in Russia has taken up Lyudmila's struggle for human rights and an international order based on rules and values. As we honor Lyudmila and her contributions to Russian civil society, we will reflect on what can be done to strengthen the solidarity of governments and international organizations with those local activists continuing her legacy in the pursuit of higher standards of human rights and democracy.
Please join the National Endowment for Democracy, the Solidarity Center, and the Free Russia Foundation as we honor Ms. Alexeyeva’s pioneering contributions to democracy and human rights, and as we highlight their impact on civil society and foreign policy in today’s Russia.
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Ambassador John Tefft is a retired United States diplomat. He was a career Foreign Service Officer for more than 45 years, completing his service as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2014 to 2017. Prior to that, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania from 2000 to 2003, Ambassador to Georgia from 2005 to 2009, and Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013. He worked from 2004 to 2005 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs responsible for U.S. relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.
Catherine Cosman is a former Senior Policy Analyst with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), where she covered the countries of the former Soviet Union. Prior to her time at USCIRF, she focused on emerging trade unions with the Free Trade Union Institute and on ethnic conflicts and human rights at the US Helsinki Human Rights Commission. She managed the Central Asia and Caucasus grants programs at the National Endowment for Democracy and worked with the Communications Division at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She has also served as a senior analyst with the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Ambassador Daniel Fried is a Distinguished Fellow in the Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. In the course of his forty-year Foreign Service career, he played a key role in designing and implementing American policy in Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, serving as special assistant and NSC senior director for Presidents Clinton and Bush, ambassador to Poland, and assistant secretary of state for Europe (2005-09). Ambassador Fried also helped lead the West’s response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine starting in 2014: as State Department coordinator for sanctions policy, he crafted US sanctions against Russia and negotiated the imposition of similar sanctions by Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia.
Leonid Gozman is president of Russia’s Union of Right Forces and former co-chairman of the Right Cause Party (2008–2011). From 2008 to 2013, he served as director of humanitarian projects at RUSNANO, a state-owned enterprise that commercializes innovations in nanotechnology, and from 1999 to 2008, he was executive board member and representative for governmental and NGO relations at Unified Energy System of Russia. An active participant in Russia’s democratic movement who has served as a political advisor to Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar, he is also the author of eight books and is a lecturer at Moscow State University. A Visiting Fellow at NED in fall 2014, he was previously a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and professor of psychology and Russian area studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Miriam Lanskoy is Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy. She holds a PhD in international affairs from Boston University for her dissertation, which focused on the Russian-Chechen conflict and has published a book The Chechen Struggle- Independence Won and Lost in 2010. She has published articles in academic journals and appeared on numerous panels and conferences. She has testified in Congress and appeared in the media including the PBS Newshour.
*Additional Speakers may be added