At a ceremony tomorrow evening in New York City hosted by film star Signorney Weaver, the well-regarded international organization Human Rights First will present Russian opposition leader Oleg Kozlovsky with its Human Rights Award for “extraordinary courage in the pursuit of our common birthright.” Caroline Kennedy and Mary Robinson will be in attendance.
We congratulate Oleg on this outstanding achievement and we applaud HRF for standing up for democracy and civil society in Russia. Kozlovsky burst onto the international scene with a major news piece and then an op-ed in the Washington Post newspaper, and he continues to struggle heroically and defiantly against the oppressive policies of the KGB-dominated Putin administration at tremendous risk to his personal safety. You can read our reports about him by clicking the “Kozlovsky” category in our sidebar. Oleg is a true Russian patriot, representing the last best hope for a real future for his country. Watch Oleg’s YouTube interview here and here. Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy’s Passport Blog has written up the event as well, including an interview with Oleg about the current state of democracy in Russia.
Human Rights First on Oleg Kozlovsky
In 2007, Oleg Kozlovsky, a coordinator of the Russian democratic youth movement Oborona, was arrested and taken to a remote military base where he was illegally forced into the army. Two months after his release, Kozlovsky was arrested and threatened once again for his involvement with Oborona.
Being targeted by the police has become almost routine for Kozlovsky, 24, who has been involved in pro-democracy protests in Russia for several years. He has been arrested more than a dozen times and has served three short prison sentences, including a 15-day sentence for his participation in the 2006 Belarusian “Jeans Revolution” in Minsk and a two-week sentence for civil disobedience in May of this year. Still, Kozlovsky bravely continues to peacefully uphold the principles of democracy despite increasing authoritarianism in Russia. Oborona– which means “defense”–opposes oppression in contemporary Russia, is committed to non-violence, and focuses on protecting human rights.
With Russia’s television and print media subject to severe pressure and monitoring by the state, Kozlovsky uses the Internet to promote his grassroots organizing. He maintains blogs in both Russian and English, his opinion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, and he has traveled and spoken widely about restoring democratic freedoms in Russia.