We started as the VOICE OF THE REFUSENIKS successfully working for free emigration from the Soviet Union, democracy, human rights, and against anti-Semitism. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, we continued to pursue our goals and, as in the past, we continue to listen to those who live in these countries today. Asked by our friends in Ukraine to help pass the Magnitsky Bill, which targeted human rights violators in Russia in 2012, we created and led a coalition of religious freedom NGOs who lobbied the US Congress to pass the legislation. Today, the efforts from working for this legislation are being felt in our national inquiry into Russian interference in the US elections. Putin is still fuming at the Magnitsky Bill, indicating that our work is still effective.
For the last seven years, our office in Lviv, Ukraine, led by Meylakh Scheykhet, has been fighting against the local government who wished to build a hotel on top of the ancient Jewish cemeteries in Lviv. The UCSJ has brought multiple law suits in the Ukrainian courts to stop this desecration and enjoin the city of Lviv from destroying these Jewish heritage sites. This has been successful with the courts siding with the UCSJ. When the city still refused to abide by the court’s decision, the UCSJ lobbied the US Ambassador’s office in Kiev who has supported our efforts. It appears that the city of Lviv has finally agreed to let the Jewish community preserve the Jewish cemeteries.
At present we are working with pro-democracy human rights and religious freedom groups in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Kazakhstan. We provide a lifeline to these organizations that keep alive the important work they are involved in under extremely difficult conditions.