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Statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the death of Lyudmila Alexeyeva 

09.12.2018 - Press release

Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today (9 December) on the death of Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Russian human rights activist and recipient of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany:

With the death of Lyudmila Alexeyeva, we have lost a great Russian – a brave and steadfast advocate for freedom and the rule of law. Her untiring commitment to defending human rights, which she maintained into old age, played a decisive role in shaping the human rights discourse in the Soviet Union, and later in Russia.

The founding of the Moscow Helsinki Group was a milestone in the development of civil society in the Soviet Union – one for which she had to pay the high price of forced exile. After returning to Russia, she continued to call out injustice and did not shy away from confrontation. For this, she deserves our recognition. Her accomplishments inspired, and continue to inspire, human rights defenders in Russia and around the world, and that is why they will endure.

I would like to express my condolences to her family, her colleagues and everyone who was close to her.

Background information:

On 8 December, the Russian human rights activist and Soviet dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva died in a Moscow hospital at the age of 91.

In 1976, Alexeyeva had co founded the Moscow Helsinki Group together with the Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov. The Group, which is still active today and which Alexeyeva chaired until recently, campaigns for the respect of human rights in Russia.

In 1977, Alexeyeva was forced into exile in the United States because of her commitment to human rights. Previously, she had been placed under a career ban and was expelled from the Communist party. In 1993, she returned to Russia, where she continued her work as a human rights defender.

In 2009, she was awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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