Ekaterinburg human rights defender Anna Pastukhova has died

5 May 2021

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

In Ekaterinburg on the evening of 4 May, Anna Pastukhova, the head of the Ekaterinburg Memorial Society, passed away. The cause of death was an illness brought on by coronavirus. The Moscow Helsinki Group expresses their condolences to Anna Yakovlevna’s family and colleagues.

Anna Yakovlevna Pastukhova was born on 26 March 1952 in Orenburg. In 1973 she graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology at Penza State Pedagogical University. From 1975 to 1994 she taught Literature and World Art at Sverdlovsk Public Catering College.

In 1992 she cast her lot with the Ekaterinburg Memorial Society, becoming its permanent chair.

“She devoted her life to preserving the memory of victims of political repression and overcoming the consequences of this national tragedy,” says Tatyana Tagieva, her colleague, and a member of the Ekaterinburg Memorial Society. “Anna Pastukhova was a prominent representative of Russian intellectual society, investing all her strength and her enormous intellectual capacity into her educational projects, which help to mould civic consciousness, dignity, and a respectful and honest attitude towards the country’s history.”

In 2015, the Ministry of Justice added the Ekaterinburg Memorial Society to their list of foreign agents. This became the premise for Anna Pastukhova’s repeated arrests. That same year, she was jailed for two days as it was believed that she had organised the picket calling for the release of Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian prisoner behind bars in Russia. Pastukhova was fined and hounded by the press. As chair of the Memorial Society, Anna Pastukhova was personally fined 100,000 roubles on several occasions. The last time this happened was in 2020 after the Restoring the Names campaign that Memorial traditionally organises on 30 October every year. That time they blamed Pastukhova for using a banner with the Memorial logo in the campaign without the necessary identification.

Anna’s associates say that she bore the cross of “foreign agent” with courage and dignity. She was profoundly concerned that the “new normal” would impede meaningful educational work with schoolchildren.

Anna Pastukhova’s final public event was the installation of “Last Address” signs in Ekaterinburg on 7 April. She was detained by police officers immediately after the ceremony so that they could draw up two charges on an administrative offence for participating in the January actions in support of Aleksei Navalny. Two days later, Anna Yakovlevna developed the first symptoms of the disease and on 14 April she was hospitalised with a confirmed case of Covid at the Ekaterinburg Hospital for WWII Veterans. She died on 4 May in the evening. 

Translated by Verity Hemp

Leave a Reply