Last week in Strasbourg the President of the EU Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, handed Sergei Kovalev, Oleg Orlov, Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Memorial human rights organization a check for 50,000 euros and presented them with the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Buzek left no doubt about the meaning of the ceremony:
“Human rights defenders in Russia are awaiting liberty. They are waiting for European Union support, and we are awarding this prize today to all Russian citizens. With this prize we members of the European Parliament honor those who still among us fight for human rights. But we also honor those who lost their lives in this valiant struggle. Natalya Estemirova should have been among us today.”
We congratulate these great Russian patriots on their heroic efforts to bring civilization and democracy to Russia at the risk of their own lives, and we condemn the craven cowards who prowl the Kremlin and seek ways to liquidate them, just as was done in Soviet times. We also congratulate the EU for making a clear stand against dictatorship and state-sponsored murder in Russia. The photograph above will surely give the KGB spies in the Kremlin many sleepless nights of well-deserved fury.
Orlov, of course, has already been convicted by Kremlin courts of libeling its lunatic ruler of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadryov, by accusing him of being complicit in the murder of Memorial’s Natalia Estemirova, something Kadyrov has basically admitted is true. And now Orlov is facing criminal prosecution over the same incident.
Accepting the award Kovlalov stated:
Europe’s task is to not remain silent. But to always insist that Russia respects its obligations to human rights.o not call on Russia to do so would be interpreted as indulgence by the Russian authorities. That would be bad for Russia and for Europe as a whole. Russia pays victims the compensation ordered by the European human rights court, it’s a sort of impunity tax. And it refuses to investigate crimes and punish the guilty.
He accused the Kremlin of promoting officers who are sanctioned by the ECHR.
These are the words of a true Russian patriot, a man willing to risk his life to pull his country back from the abyss of failure towards which it is hurtling at breakneck speed. There is a reason Natalia Estemirova, one of Memorial’s leading light, was brutally murdered by the Kremlin: It was afraid of her. If more Russians would join forces with Memorial and stand up against the clan of proud KGB spies who rule it, demanding a better future, Russia could have one.
It is heartening to see Europe reaching out to recognize these Russian heroes. it shows that the lame propaganda campaign being practiced by the Kremlin fools nobody, that there are many in Europe who clearly see the neo-Soviet atrocity that Russia threatens to become. More should now be done to follow up on this first step and give genuine tangible to support to all those brave Russian patriots who will fight for democracy, from Oleg Kozlovsky to Vladimir Milov to Lev Ponomarev. Only when that is done can the West avoid its own repetition of history.
In another editorial today, we congratulate NATO for clearly standing up to Russia on Georgia and Ukraine. Taken together, these two developments clearly signal that the forces opposing the Putin dictatorship are mobilizing and taking effective steps to contain and ultimately destroy the neo-Soviet threat Putin has created. The people of Russia now have a clear choice. We urge them to make the right one.