Moscow Helsinki Group celebrates 44th anniversary online

13 May 2020

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

On 12 May 2020, it was 44 years since the founding of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG). This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we commemorated MHG’s anniversary online, together with our friends and colleagues.

Dear friends, thank you all for participating in our marathon event, for your support, congratulatory messages and kind words!

There were many interesting presentations, films, music, photographs, memories of setting up the MHG, discussion of the human rights situation in Russia and the world, an account of MHG’s work today, suggestions about how human rights defenders might respond to contemporary human rights challenges regarding how to preserve and promote the values of human rights, and conversations about the present and future of the Helsinki movement in the world. The event took place in Zoom and was broadcast live on MHG’s Facebook page.

We always announce the names of the winners of the Moscow Helsinki Group prize for human rights work on 12 May, the date when the MHG was set up. This year, MHG members decided to award the prize to the MHG itself and to congratulate the winners at a later date, once the current lockdown has ended and we can celebrate offline. 

We will give more details later about the presentations, ideas and suggestions made by those who participated in our marathon event on 12 May. We’ll gradually put all the presentations onto our webpage, so that you can watch anything you missed.

At the very start, one of the founders of the MHG, Yury Orlov, gave a speech of welcome. We list others who gave presentations: the MHG’s co-chairs, Valery Borshchev and Dmitry Makarov; MHG members Boris Altschuler, Olga Zimenkova, Lev Ponomarev, Karinna Moskalenko, Sergei Lukashevsky, Sergei Krivenko and Svetlana Astrakhantseva; Natan Sharansky, who was one of the founders of the MHG in 1976, a Soviet political prisoner, and who is now a well-known figure in government and politics in Israel; Tatyana Lokshina, Human Rights Watch’s programme director in Russia; Leonid Gozman, a Russian politician and public figure; Andrei Babushkin, head of the Committee for Civil Rights; Bill Bowring, president of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights; Pepijn Gerrits, director of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee; Harry Hummel, senior policy advisor to the Netherlands Helsinki Committee; Simon Cosgrove, director of ‘Rights in Russia’ (Great Britain); and Danuta Przywara, director of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Warsaw).

Everyone who was with us for the live broadcast knows that mischief-makers repeatedly tried to interrupt proceedings and prevent speakers from giving their presentations. We will have to cut out the parts of some presentations which they spoiled. Some participants in the event joked wryly that Radio Svoboda and the BBC used to be jammed, and now it’s happening again…

We’re glad that we managed to run a large-scale online event. Thanks again to everyone who was involved, watched and supported us on this momentous day! We hope you found it interesting.

For your freedom and ours!

The Moscow Helsinki Group is continuing its work, even though it has no funding. If our work is important to you, please sign up to make a monthly donation of whichever amount suits you:

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts

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