Freedom House Congratulates Memorial on Human Rights Award
December 16, 2009
Freedom House congratulates Oleg Orlov, Lyudmila Alexeyeva and Sergei Kovalev of human rights group Memorial on winning the 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament to “individuals or international organisations who – like Sakharov – have distinguished themselves in the struggle for human rights.”
“It is not a happy moment for Russia that those who are monitoring human rights are receiving awards for their bravery in documenting and publicizing the truth,” said Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Executive Director of Freedom House. “These three knew and worked with Andrei Sakharov in an earlier period of repression in Russia. He would be proud that they have continued the struggle, as he would be dismayed by the need to do so twenty years on.”
Founded in 1988, Memorial campaigns for the protection of basic human rights in states such as Russia, Ukraine and the South Caucasus. After the murder of Memorial researcher Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya earlier this year, the organization was obliged to temporarily suspend its activities in the North Caucasus although they have since returned. They have returned in response to the request by dozens of groups across the Russian Federation.
“This award is a timely acknowledgement of both Oleg Orlov’s personal courage and commitment as well as Memorial’s indispensable work in the North Caucasus,” said Ella Asoyan, Program Officer with the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus. “We commend Memorial for returning to Chechnya, despite continued threat, and their bravery should serve as a source of inspiration to others.”
Russia is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2009 version of Freedom of the Press.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Russia since 1972.
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