Andreas Peschke, Director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia at the Federal Foreign Office, met Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina in Berlin on 12 October. Gannushkina was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize in 2016 for her long-standing services to human rights and the protection of refugees in Russia.
Since 1990, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) run by Gannushkina has provided refugees and migrants all over Russia with legal advice, social support and education opportunities. The NGO also works to foster integration, tolerance and the rule of law.
Strengthening cooperation between civil societies
During their meeting, Peschke underlined the importance of cooperation between civil societies in Germany and Russia. “The German Government is working to maintain and expand the wide-ranging contacts between people in Russia and Germany. In these politically challenging times in particular, our aim is to prevent the two societies from growing apart.”
Svetlana Gannushkina reported on the increasing curtailment of the scope of action for Russian NGOs. She said that the legislation on so-called “foreign agents” in particular could lead to the intimidation of activists. Independent expressions of opinion and a constructive and lively dialogue between the Government and the people were becoming increasingly difficult. Gannushkina also spoke about her impressions of the human rights situation in the northern Caucasus.