The Lantos Foundation joins with millions of other human rights activists in mourning the passing of one of the great women of the movement, Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
I had the privilege of knowing Lyudmila personally and we worked together on the cause of democracy and human rights in Russia - a fight to which she lent her considerable intellect, passion, and credibility for well over half a century.
Lyudmila was among the small circle of founding members of the Moscow Helsinki Group - a brave band that had the audacious and dangerous idea that they would hold the Soviet Union accountable for the human rights pledges it had made under the Helsinki accords.
Under threat of imprisonment, Lyudmila had to leave the Soviet Union in the late 70’s. She returned to her beloved Russia in the 1990’s to resume her work on behalf of worker’s rights, human rights, and democracy. In her 80’s while defending the right of peaceful assembly, she was arrested and assaulted - something few people her age would willingly endure, but Lyudmila was no ordinary octogenarian.
I was last with her several years ago in her memory filled apartment in Moscow. Till the end, Lyudmila was idealistic, optimistic, passionate, and principled.
This graceful woman will continue to inspire new generations of human rights leaders as she has me.
- Katrina Lantos Swett, Lantos Foundation President