Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. (Getty Images)

The Russian Human Rights Community will Persevere

May 18, 2023


The moral response to Soviet totalitarianism among Russian and other Soviet intellectuals taught us how to monitor and advocate for human rights. The response to Russia’s current assault on civil society also could provide models, and hold lessons. Will it mean the end of independent efforts to monitor state policies in the light of universal standards for safeguarding individual rights and freedoms? Activists say no, that they will doggedly continue their work; institutions may be banned, but individual efforts are more resistant to repression. Methods will be developed, as clever as the underground samizdat human rights reports of the Soviet era that helped the international community and the Soviet people understand, on the basis of evidence, the brutality of communist rule. 

These are dark days for Russians who have sought life in a democratic, tolerant state respecting human rights. But people like Verkhovsky are unlikely to relinquish their efforts on behalf of the freedoms and security of Russian citizens, and people everywhere.

Aaron Rhodes is a senior fellow at Common Sense Society. Rhodes is also chairman and president of the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF) and was executive director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights from 1993-2007. Peter Zoehrer is a journalist and executive director of FOREF.

Originally published in The Messenger.

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