Nomination of Lyudmila Alexeyeva for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize
Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, I am privileged to nominate Ms. Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran Soviet dissident and one of the most respected human rights defenders in today's Russia, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Being one of the founders of human rights movement in the Soviet Union, Lyudmila Alexeyeva has been tirelessly working to promote and protect the values of freedom and peace over nearly half a century, and has become a symbol of solidarity and struggle for justice in Russia and beyond.
Back in the USSR, Lyudmila Alexeyeva worked to support dissident writers sentenced to jail in political show trials in the 1960s. She lost her job as a result. Later, she took part in launching The Chronicle of Current Events, the first ever human rights bulletin in the Soviet Union, and was one of co-founders of Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976. Then, under threat of arrest, she took the difficult decision to leave the country for exile and assist the dissident movement from abroad, which she did through Radio Liberty and Voice of America as well as international press.
This alone would be enough to qualify her for some awards, however, Ludmila Alexeyeva is unique in that she has remained the leading figure in human rights movement even in Russia today, after returning from exile. As the head of Moscow Helsinki Group, she has been very critical of increasing restrictions on rights and freedoms in Putin's Russia, while several times she played a major unifying role in civic initiatives requesting reform and more freedoms (eg. Russian Civic Congress, Strategy 31). Taking a principled stance, she has always been ready to engage in dialogue with authorities, however, stressing the need to maintain peaceful means to put pressure on authorities so they observe the law and ensure justice.
In her life and work, Ludmila Alexeyeva has embodied a vision of a peaceful, open and democratic society governed by law. And in my view, this compelling vision deserves strong support especially in today's Russia.
Over the past year, Russia witnessed an unexpected wave of massive public protest after rigged elections that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets, scenes unseen in Russia during the last two decades. The authorities swiftly re-acted to this unprecedented upsurge of civic activity with repressive measures: anti-demonstration law, law on NGOs as "foreign agents", criminalization of defamation, show trials and others. Under the new legislation, Lyudmila Alexeyeva is liable for criminal prosecution for working internationally and for Moscow Helsinki Group receiving funds from abroad. One of the new laws even seems to be directly targeting her when barring persons with US-Russia citizenship from managing Russian NGOs (due to her exile times, Lyudmila Alexeyeva is one of the best-know examples of an NGO head with dual citizenship).
Although of respectable age, Lyudmila Alexeyeva is facing all this pressure with unwavering conviction, resilience and grace, yet retaining openness to a dialogue. Moral authorities such as Lyudmila Alexeyeva are key in times when tensions arise between those in power and society and some conflict seems imminent (taking into account that developments in Russia have effects all over the countries of the former Soviet Union). As Vaclav Havel once put it: "Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and the state, there can be no guarantee of external peace."
I believe that this is why Lyudmila Alexeyeva, and in her name the peaceful pro-democracy movement in Russia, deserve international recognition especially now.
Thank you for your consideration.
Yours faithfully, Werner Schulz