UCSJ Update: Our Discussion with Luidmilla Alexeeva

MARCH 11, 2013 On March 2, 2013, UCSJ President Larry Lerner and International Director Leonid Stonov had an hour long Skype discussion with the Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), Luidmilla Alexeeva. Alexeeva is a long-term partner of UCSJ. She arrived in the US on March 1, 2013, after being invited by Senator Benjamin Cardin, chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. During her stay in the US, Alexeeva will have meetings with many key members of Congress and the human rights community.

During the Skype conference, Alexeeva described the severely deteriorating human rights situation in Russia. She cited the detention and arrests of participants of peaceful meetings and rallies and spoke about the many difficulties that NGOs face today. These range from issues with registration to the regular tortures occurring in police stations and jails. In addition, she described other problems such as the censorship and control of information, increasing extremism and the threat of the new “agents of influence” law that can prevent NGOs from receiving foreign grants.

MHG continues to support UCSJ’s monitoring of antisemitism and xenophobia, as well as our advocacy for the victims of such abuse. MHG permits us to use their network for this monitoring. Alexeeva also stressed that the West needs to improve its collection and dissemination of information regarding mass violence against human rights workers in Russia. UCSJ promised to help with this issue.

UCSJ and Alexeeva also spoke about the Crisis Support Center that we run in our office in Washington D.C. The CSG works to help threatened members of the human rights movements.

Finally, the UCSJ leadership congratulated Alexeeva on her nomination for the Nobel Peace Price (together with Belarusian activist and political prisoner Ales Belyatski) and expressed full support for this nomination.