Press release

Freedom House: 2018 Awards to Journalist, LGBT Activist, Biden, and Corker

Journalist Elena Milashina and Russian LGBT activist Igor Kochetkov, who together helped expose the widespread illegal torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya, will receive the 2018 Freedom Award.


Journalist Elena Milashina of Russia’s independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and Russian LGBT activist Igor Kochetkov, who together helped expose the widespread illegal detention, torture, and murder of gay men in Chechnya, will receive the 2018 Freedom Award at Freedom House’s 2018 Annual Awards dinner, on May 23, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

The organization will present its Leadership Award to Joe Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States; and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in recognition of their commitment to democracy and their compassion for those suffering under authoritarianism.

“With remarkable courage, Elena Milashina and Igor Kochetkov helped bring Chechen authorities’ lawless, ultimately murderous campaign against gay men to the world’s attention,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Their work, and the frightening risks it brought, make them truly deserving of our highest honor, the Freedom Award, which since 1943 has recognized individuals who selflessly champion freedom and democracy.”

Past winners of the Freedom Award include Chen Guangcheng, Vaclav Havel, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, and George C. Marshall.


Because of her reporting on Chechnya, Elena Milashina has been targeted by an intimidation campaign including repeated death threats. Her journalism has focused on key events in Russia’s recent history, including the 2006 assassination of fellow journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Igor Kochetkov is founder of the LGBT Network, the largest Russian organization promoting equal rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Network was the first organization to respond to the anti-gay campaign in Chechnya and led effort to evacuate survivors.

Vice President Joe Biden, co-recipient of the Leadership Award, played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy, first as Senator from Delaware for 36 years and then for eight years as Vice President. He was at the forefront of legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. Since leaving the White House, he has continued his legacy of expanding opportunity for all, with the creation of the Biden Foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.

Senator Bob Corker, recipient of the Leadership Award and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has used his position in the Senate to bring attention to the more than 27 million people throughout the world suffering in forced labor and sexual servitude. In 2015, he proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery worldwide, which became law in 2016. As Chairman he has visited more than 70 countries to help him shape legislation promoting development, global food security, and humanitarian assistance to former war-torn areas.

To learn more the event or our honorees, visit