12/11/2018, 09.22
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The testament of Ljudmila Alekseeva, apostle of human rights

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The leader of the 'Heksinki Group' who started the movement of Russian dissent in the 1960s died last December 8. The funeral is celebrated today. Perhaps Putin will also be present. In her testament she invites people to never lose hope, even when the battle appears lost.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Last December 8, Ljudmila Alekseeva died at the age of 91 in Moscow. She was a member of the Council of the President of Russia for the development of civil society and human rights, and was the last great representative of the generation of "humanitarian" dissidents who, since the 1960s of the last century, dedicated themselves to the cause of the defense of the rights accepted by the Helsinki Declaration, also signed by the Soviet Union in 1975.

In those difficult years, Alekseeva led the Moscow section of the "Helsinki Group", to which belonged the so-called pravozascitniki, the "rights defenders". The current head of the Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, said that "to say that we will miss her is like saying nothing; it is a terrible loss for the whole Russian humanitarian movement ". Fedotov told the Interfax agency that Alekseeva died in the city clinic n. 15, "in the room that she loved so much", because, as she herself said, "there are some holy men working there, and they too loved her". She had been admitted to the clinic several times, where the doctors had saved her in very difficult situations.

The funeral of Ljudmila Alekseeva will take place today December 11th, protected by special security measures. The presence of President Vladimir Putin, who had great respect for the "mother of rights", is not excluded; all citizens wishing to participate will have to undergo a special accreditation procedure. On the evening of the same day, President Putin will reunite the newly appointed Human Rights Council with all new members.

Ljudmila Alekseeva was a high school history teacher for manual laborers in Moscow, editor of archeology and ethnology in a prestigious scientific journal, and also became a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. She did not hesitate to stand up in 1966, at the dawn of the Russian samizdat, joining the public protests for the arrest and trial of the writers Andrej Sinjavskij and Julij Daniel', the event that marked the beginning of the Russian movement of dissent. She was one of the first to organize a network of help and support for political prisoners and their families, and participated in the publication of the first clandestine bulletin in the Chronicle of current events, the voice of dissidents persecuted by the Soviet regime.

Accused in 1974 of "anti-Soviet activity", in February 1977 she was forced to emigrate to the United States. She returned to Russia in 1993, a year before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and immediately resumed dealing with the activities of the "Helsinki Group" in defense of human rights. Since 2002 she was called to participate in the Presidential Council for Human Rights, from which she retired in 2012 due to illness. She had been reinstated in the Council a few days before her death. In recognition of her work, Alekseeva received the French prize of the Legion of Honor, the "Andrej Sacharov" prize from the Republic of Germany and many other awards.

On December 9, the Helsinki Group's annual conference opened, in which Alekseeva sent a written text from the hospital, in the last days before her death, which has become her living testament. These are among the most salient passages:

"Dear friends, I am sorry that my health prevents me from celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with you. All these decades have gone by, investing all of our strength and our capacities, to ensure, as far as possible, that this declaration be fulfilled with real content, become part of our culture and politics, is defended by laws and institutions, integral to our daily life. (...) More and more people in the world live in conditions of freedom and democracy, so far we have managed to avoid a new global war ... yet, the new generations are growing increasingly cynically and indifferent to this fragile system of values ​​and institutions , which we have tried to create. The growth of political populism and nationalism, against the background of the great migration crisis, conflicts of a religious basis, the rise of new authoritarian governments ... put all our important but fragile achievements of the past at risk, and all this imposes on your shoulders new and tiring commitments ". Alekseeva concludes her last appeal with an invitation to never lose hope, even when the battle appears lost.  

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