26 May, 2021

Yabloko host conference and exhibition to mark centenary of human rights defender Sakharov

Friday 21 May would have been the 100th birthday of Academic and human rights defender Andrei Sakharov. A photo exhibition prepared by the Sakharov Centre was denied permission at the last minute by Moscow authorities, so ALDE member party Yabloko threw open the doors of its HQ and will host the exhibition to commemorate his life work.

To mark the occasion, the party also organised an international zoom-conference that featured ALDE Party Vice President Henrik Bach Mortensen, Vice President of Liberal International Astrid Thors, ALDE MEP Petras Auštrevičius and many other distinguished Russian and foreign speakers.

Opening the exhibition, Yabloko Chairman Nikolai Rybakov promised to do everything possible so that an even larger number of people would see the exhibition. Starting his remarks in the same manner that Andrei Sakharov began his major speeches, the Yabloko Chairman read aloud the names of 80 current political prisoners of conscience, before condemning the refusal of the Moscow authorities to give a permission to hold the exhibition.

Grigory Yavlinsky, Chairman of the Yabloko Federal Political Committee, said the current authorities are afraid of Sakharov: “What they are doing with his centenary, the fact that Yabloko is accepting the exhibition that was supposed to take place in the centre of Moscow - this is the answer to this question: they still fear and understand the importance of Sakharov, understand the meaning of his every word.”

ALDE Party Vice President Henrik Bach Mortensen said: “Yabloko deserves praise for organising this occasion to commemorate the memory of Sakharov, who I remember as a teenager was an ideal for many young people all over the world. He was a remarkable person, very much like the Danish scientist Niels Bohr, in that they started out as very brilliant nuclear scientists and turned into human rights and peace activists.”

“To many people in the West, Sakharov was really the first dissident; he was the founding father of the Committee on Human Rights in the USSR. Many people all over Europe, and indeed all over the world, felt that Sakharov was a very worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.”

He noted that Sakharov will remain an icon “for peace-loving Democrats all over the world and particularly in Europe” and that the European Parliament each year awards the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for outstanding contributions to human rights.

“In Europe we have come a long way since Sakharov since 1975. I remember the dreams we all shared just after the Berlin Wall came down and Sakharov was elected to the parliament, when we all believed we could share a peaceful and prosperous common future in Europe. We were close for some time, but surely Europe and Russia have now drifted apart for a long time. But I believe the memory of Sakharov should help us dream of a future where the whole of Europe, including Russia, can come together.”

Sergei Lukashevsky, the Director of the Sakharov Centre, said: “Today we are going through difficult times, when it seems that in terms of freedom, our country is rolling back somewhere to the early 1980s,” and quoted Acad. Sakharov: “Even when it seems that it is difficult and impossible to do something, we need to build ideals. It is a natural need to create ideals. Even when we do not see an immediate path to their implementation. After all, if there are no ideals, then there is absolutely nothing to hope for. Then there is a feeling of hopelessness and a dead end.”

Watch the full video of the opening of the exhibition here or below

Watch the full video of the conference here or below

The doors of the Yabloko party office in Moscow will be open to everyone wishing to see the exhibition for two weeks: every weekday from 21 May until 4 June, from 12:00 to 21:00.

Photo credit: Yabloko

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