23 November 2020
By Lev Ponomarev, chair of the nationwide NGO For Human Rights and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Lev Ponomarev remembers Lidiya Grafova (8 August 1938 – 23 November 2020) who died this week. In 2015 Lidiya Grafova was awarded a Moscow Helsinki Group prize for her journalism advancing human rights values.
Lidochka Grafova, with whom I worked closely and have been friends for the last 25 years, has died. I started reading her much earlier: her clever, penetrating articles helped me better understand what was going on in the country. Even though I am only a little younger than Lida, she was my teacher. At that time I was working in the scientific field and I did not pay much attention to what was going on around me.
When I became a human rights defender, Lida became my teacher again – now in the difficult field of human rights. She was the most brilliant journalist writing on human rights issues. She also did a great deal of work to assist those of her fellow countrymen and women who found themselves outside the Russian Federation. She brought them together and helped to solve their problems. The authorities, as usual, manipulated issues in their own interests: they urged their compatriots to come back home but made no provision for them, leaving them at the mercy of fate. Lida did everything she could to help these people. It often happens that by helping people, a person makes a career. Lida was completely devoid of any ambition. I can imagine how many people who are grateful to her now feel orphaned and, just like me, feel acutely unhappy at her death.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove