Freedom House congratulates veteran Russian human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alekseyeva on her 85th birthday. Alekseyeva has been a staunch defender of fundamental human rights in the Soviet Union and then Russia since she was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest human rights organization still operating. From apartments in the outskirts of Moscow in 1976, Alekseyeva was among a group of academics that seized upon the Helsinki Accords, a landmark agreement between the Soviet Union, Western Europe, and the United States that obligated signatories to protect fundamental rights and acknowledged the signatories’ mutual interest in each other’s’ implementation of the 1975 agreement. As a founding member of the Moscow Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords in the USSR – the Moscow Helsinki Group – has been a chief proponent of international human rights defense in Eurasia and across the world.
On December 31, 2009, Alekseyeva took to the streets to defend the freedom of assembly
in a traditional Russian Snow Queen costume. She was detained shortly thereafter.
To this day, Alekseyeva plays a pivotal role in defending fundamental rights in a Russia where they are constantly under threat. Most recently, she has been a leader in efforts to push back against renewed efforts to clamp down on civil society activity and the expression of dissenting views in Russia. She has been a tireless advocate for the freedom of assembly and association in Russia, and has taken to the streets and been met with brutal crackdowns by the police despite her advanced years. Through her spearheading of the Strategy 31 campaign, evoking article 31 of Russia’s constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly, and her outspokenness during the wave of demonstrations and crackdowns following apparently fraudulent elections in December 2011 and March 2012, Alekseyeva continues to be at the forefront of defending human rights in Russia.
On this day, we celebrate her selfless dedication and commitment to defending rights in Russia and wish her a very happy birthday!