Our guest on the podcast this week is Lev Aleksandrovich Ponomarev. Lev Ponomarev is a human rights activist, head of the For Human Rights movement and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. He also participated in the creation of the Memorial Human Rights Centre. As a legal entity, the For Human Rights Movement was liquidated by a November 2019 decision of the Russian Supreme Court. Lev Ponomarev became one of the first private individuals to be included in the registry of ‘media foreign agents’ when the Russian Ministry of Justice included him in the corresponding list on December 28, 2020.
The questions we ask Lev Ponomarev include:
- Andrei Babushkin, the well-known human rights defender, died recently – on the night of May 14. You knew him well for many years. What kind of person was he?
- When did you leave Russia and what made you take this difficult decision?
- What is the situation like for human rights defenders who still live and work in Russia today?
- You were one of the organizers of the peace movement in Russia. How strong is this movement?
- How difficult is it to continue your work outside of Russia?
- How long can Russian propaganda be effective in the face of Russia’s enormous human and material losses during the war?
- What effect do sanctions have inside Russia?
- Many people now use the word “fascism” to describe Putin’s regime in Russia. Would you use this term?
- You have advocated democratic reforms in Russia since at least the late 1980s. Why have these reforms – at least to date – failed so badly?
- How do you see future developments?
You can listen to the podcast in full here:
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: ‘”The atmosphere in the country now is like, well, they’re not shooting us yet, but… What is there to say? I’ve been squeezed out, I have been forced to go abroad,” Lev Ponomarev told us. “The attacks were almost daily. But I wasn’t beaten up once, thank God. I have to thank those guys who attacked me. They showed some humanism, so to speak. Well, they poured something smelly over me, and I had to throw away my jacket and trousers. The cops stopped me in the metro, told me I was on the federal wanted list, and then they drove me around town and let me go. In general, I realized I had to leave.” In our latest podcast on Rights in Russia, Simon and I talked with Lev Ponomarev. We remembered Andrei Babushkin, who has died recently, discussed the human rights situation in Russia and considered possible scenarios for the future.’
Given the length of the podcast, for ease of listening we have also divided it up into nine parts:
Part One: Leaving Russia:
Part Two: On Andrei Babushkin:
Part Three: On the work of human rights activists in Russia today:
Part Four: On the peace movement in Russia:
Part Five: On the impact of official propaganda:
Part Six: On the impact of international sanctions:
Part Seven: On the use of the term ‘fascist’ with regard to Russia:
Part Eight: On the history of democractic reforms in Russia:
Part Nine: On prospects for the future: