Podcast: Then & Now #2 – Teresa Cherfas in conversation with Svetlana Gannushkina

20 February 2023

by Teresa Cherfas

Welcome to the second episode of our new Russian-language podcast Then & Now with me, Teresa Cherfas.  

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 everything, everywhere, suddenly looked different. That day was a watershed. Guests on the Then & Now podcast are people for whom February 24 became a defining moment, dividing their lives into before and after the war.

Svetlana Gannushkina Right Livelihood Award 2016 Stockholm 11 / 2016 Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt

Today’s guest is Svetlana Alekseevna Gannushkina: human rights activist, social activist and chair of the Committee for Civic Assistance – the first human rights organisation in Russia helping refugees and displaced persons. In 1991, she was one of the founding members of the Memorial Centre for Human Rights and in 2010  – together with Memorial – she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On December 23, 2022, her name was added to the register of ‘foreign agents.’  Her organisation, the Committee for Civic Assistance, was registered as a ‘foreign agent’ in April 2015.  

The recording took place on 16 February 2023

You can also listen to the podcast here:

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My questions include:

  • What did you recall of your feelings and thoughts on 24 February 2022?
  • What were the key events that led you to become a human rights activist?
  • Why did you decide to focus your work on refugees? 
  • How does being on the register of ‘foreign agents’ affect you? And the work of your organisation?
  • You often talk about feelings of shame and responsibility for your country. How do you understand Russia’s lack of sympathy for Ukrainians?
  • What is left of civil society in Russia today after the closures of Memorial, the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Sakharov Centre?
  • How do you see the future of Russia

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