Archive for June 2011
I’m currently in Vilnius, Lithuania, at a conference organized by Community of Democracies. It’s a loose intergovernmental organization, which includes most democratic countries (and, for some reason, a few undemocratic ones).
Tonight I met, together with a group of activists from other countries, with Hillary Clinton. The meeting itself was off the record, but I may publish what I said.
One of the major problems of the Russian political system is the impunity of those responsible for attacks on activists and journalists. International sanctions directed against these individuals could not only restore justice to some degree but also deter others from participating in persecution. I am pleased to see that Sergei Magnitsky Act that can help implement such a policy is being considered by Congress. I also hope that the European Union will enact similar legislation. I wish the State Department took some steps of its own regarding this issue.
At the very least, those involved in human rights abuses should not receive support from democratic countries. For instance, a number of Western companies, including Cisco and Ernst & Young, are among the sponsors of a large Seliger Forum that will open tomorrow. Its organizer, the former leader of the infamous Nashi group, Vasiliy Yakemenko, is widely believed to be connected, among other things, with the attempt to assassinate journalist Oleg Kashin. I think that a strong statement from US officials could discourage such irresponsible corporate behavior.
This weekend, I participated in Anti-Seliger Forum: a sort of festival/summer camp for civil activists, organized by Khimki Forest defenders not far from Moscow. This was one of the most significant opposition (or, better to say, independent of the government) events of the last year in Russia, an attempt, apparently successful, to reach out to a broader part of the society. According to different estimates, from 1000 to 3000 people participated in it over four days.
I presented a new project that we at Vision of Tomorrow Fund have been preparing for several months: Civil Leadership School. Its goal is to create a community of capable, effective and smart activists who will become the leaders of Russia’s civil society in this decade. Through their participation in the School, they will take part in trainings, engage in discussions, gain useful contacts and get to know each other. Best experts will be invited to speak at the School’s events.
For more on the School, check out CivilLeaders.ru (the full Website in both Russian and English will be launched soon). If you understand Russian, you may also watch the very presentation speech at the Anti-Seliger: