Reuters reports on the hopes of a Russian contender for the Nobel Peace Prize. Given the fate of Anna Politkovskaya, La Russophobe dares to wonder if Lydia Yusupova will live long enough to collect the prize. The Nobel winner will be announced this Friday, October 13th. Root for Lydia, a true Russian patriot, not only to win the prize but to live long enough to enjoy it and to use its proceeds to bring the forces of anti-democracy and imperialism to their knees. If she doesn’t win, consider making a donation to her cause to make up the difference. In this way, you can make a real difference in the future of Russia. To learn more about her organization, Memorial, and donate or give other suport, click here. To contact Lidia directly, call tel. +7 095 790 7455/56 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can do it! You can help!
The cramped apartment on the outskirts of Moscow overlooking rows of Soviet-era tower blocks is the temporary home of human rights lawyer Lydia Yusupova, a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s temporary because next year she plans to return to her native Grozny and continue — despite the threat of murder and kidnap — to document human rights abuses in a war between Russia and Chechen separatists which has killed thousands.
Australian bookmakers Centrebet put Yusupova, 46, among the top 10 favourites for the world’s most prestigious peace prize.
Last year she won Norway’s Rafto prize for human rights from which four laureates have gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize since its inauguration in 1987.
“It’s very important (to win),” she said in the kitchen of her two-room apartment where she has lived since last year while she completes a study programme funded by the U.S. non-governmental organisation Ford Foundation.
“The Chechnya theme is still critical. Things are not as good there as European experts may think.”
She was speaking one day before the murder of a prominent Russian journalist who also documented human rights abuses in Chechnya.
Statesmen, politicians and international organisations dominate the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners, although the committee of Norwegian politicians and academics has recently favoured women grassroot activists.
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer, won in 2003 and she was followed by Kenyan green activist Wangari Maathai. Last year, on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima atom bomb attack, the committee handed the award to the International Atomic Energy Agency and boss Mohamed El Baradei.
This year’s favourites for the prize, which will be announced on Friday and is worth more than $1 million to the winner, include Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari who helped negotiate peace in Indonesia’s Aceh province.
Whether Yusupova wins or not, she says she will return to live and work in Grozny, Chechnya’s ruined capital.
“Now there is another wave (of kidnappings and arrests) in Chechnya,” she said comparing it to disappearances during Stalin’s Soviet Union. “There are currently many people who are illegally imprisoned.”
Two wars wrecked the southern Russian republic since 1994.
Thousands died and Yusupova and Memorial, the human rights group she works for, estimate that as many as 5,000 people have disappeared — mainly Chechens targeted by federal and pro-Russian law enforcement.
Yusupova, an ethnic Russian born in Grozny, also faced the threat of kidnapping.
“We went to bed every night waiting,” she said, faint highlights streaked through her short, dark hair. “I didn’t want to be caught totally off my guard if they came for me in the middle of the night.”
The dangers for people who highlight the disappearances persist away from Chechnya. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, one of President Vladimir Putin’s strongest critics, was killed by a gunman in central Moscow on Saturday.
“It’s absolutely terrible,” Yusupova said by telephone after the murder. “It was done to make others shut their mouths. To say ‘See what can happen to you’.”