One of Russia’s most outspoken advocates for democracy and human rights will speak at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) on October 30 as part of its President’s Lecture Series.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, a journalist, filmmaker and political activist, has been on the front lines of opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 2015, he was poisoned and nearly died – three months after his close friend, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin. In 2017, Kara-Murza was poisoned again.
Undaunted, he continues to travel the world to raise awareness of corruption and human rights abuses in Russia. He has actively lobbied foreign governments to pass laws preventing corrupt officials from channelling their wealth into foreign financial institutions – including the 2017 Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Actin Canada and the 2012 Magnitsky Act in the United States.
“Human rights are universal, so accountability for abusing human rights should also be universal,” said Kara-Murza, who heads an organization called Open Russia. “People who violate the norms of democracy in their own countries should not be able to enjoy the fruits and privileges of democracy in other countries.”
When he is not travelling, Kara-Murza lives in both Russia and Washington DC, where he is a columnist for The Washington Post. In September, he was a pallbearer at the funeral of U.S. Senator John McCain. A recent interview between Kara-Murza and the CMHR has been posted online.
Media are invited to speak with Kara-Murza and CMHR president and CEO John Young on October 29. Media are also welcome to attend the lecture on October 30 at 6:30 p.m. General admission for the public is $20, with discounts for members, seniors and students. The lecture will also be livestreamed through the website of The Globe and Mail.
WHAT: Interview opportunity (in English and French) with Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza
WHEN: Monday, October 29, 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: CMHR Rights Today gallery, Level 5 (entry through Group Entrance) 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg
Young, a former university professor who had specialized in post-Soviet Russian studies, met Kara-Murza last spring and was impressed with his commitment to democracy in the face of authoritarian rule.
“It takes courageous and committed people to continue pushing for human rights when their lives are in danger,” said Young, who lived and worked in Russia at various times over a 20-year span from 1988 to 2008 – witnessing the shift from communist Soviet rule to perestroika (economic and political reform) led by Mikhail Gorbachev to the return of many totalitarian practices under Putin.
However, Kara-Murza has great hope for the future of his country, noting that tens of thousands of Russian young people have recently been protesting on the streets.
“This is a very optimistic sign, since these young people are the future of Russia. Many of them were born under Putin and you’d think they would be completely brainwashed by Kremlin propaganda – yet this is the generation that is increasingly taking to the streets to say ‘Enough!’ They are the target of our work. We want to empower them to become active and informed citizens.”