This week Simon Cosgrove and Sergei Nikitin talk with Dmitry Makarov (pictured left), co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of Russia’s oldest and leading human rights organisations. It was originally set up in 1976 to monitor Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Accords and Soviet human rights abuses. Forced out of existence in the early 1980s, the Moscow Helsinki Group was revived in 1989 and continues to operate in Russia today. This podcast is in the Russian language. To listen to the podcast, choose either Podcasts.com, SoundCloud, Spotify or iTunes.
Sergei comments [from Facebook]: “The city of Orel is one of those cities that formed part of the so-called ‘Red’ or ‘Patriotic’ (patriotic of the ‘brown’ kind] Belt. It had communist rulers and a communist representative in the Federation Council, and a flag with an amazing combination of the sickle and the hammer on a red background – along with an eagle. And in the city of Orel itself there was everywhere a mixture of the Soviet with the tsarist — a memorial to Dzerzhinksky here and a statue of Ivan Grozny on horseback there. It was in this city many years ago that Dmitry Makarov, then a student at the local university, joined together with Dmitry Kraiukhin and Veronika Katkova to begin work on human rights issues. And this was only the beginning.
From Orel Dmitry moved to Moscow where he did graduate studies, and after that to Voronezh. You have to admire the extent of Dmitry’s active participation in human rights work: he has been co-chair of the coordinating committee of the Youth Human Rights Movement and one of the founders and members of Legal Team, an association of activists providing legal advice to the human rights movement and NGOs. Dmitry Makarov has been on human rights observer missions to Belarus and a participant in the Crimea Human Rights Field Mission. He has also taken part in monitoring missions in central Asian countries.
I remember Dmitry as one of the initiators of the United Group of Civil Society Observers (OGON in its Russian abbreviation) and the International Observers’ Network. Members of OGON monitored human rights observance at large-scale public events and campaigned for widespread participation of public oversight of the work of the police and the courts. Dmitry is a person of many talents and has been a member of the steering committee and the training team of the International School of Human Rights and Civic Actions. He is also known as a lecturer and trainer on human rights, conducting seminars in many countries of the former Soviet Union.
Very recently, in January 2019, Dmitry Makarov became one of three co-chairs of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Last year he was elected to this position along with two former Soviet dissidents –Valery Borshchev and Viacheslav Bakhmin).
It was great for Simon Cosgrove and I to be able to talk with Dmitry in our latest podcast. The hour’s conversation passed all too quickly. If you listen, I’m sure you will find it as interesting as we did.”
Simon adds: A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here. If this podcast does not play immediately on the podcast.com website, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right.