Lyudmila Alexeyeva
Людмила Алексеева
Alexeyeva in 2005
Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva

(1927-07-20)20 July 1927
Died8 December 2018(2018-12-08) (aged 91)
CitizenshipSoviet Union (1927–1977)
United States (1982–2018)
Russia (1991–2018)
Alma materthe MSU Faculty of History, the graduate school of the Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics, and Informatics
Occupation(s)Russian historian, activist, chairwomen of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group
Known forHuman rights activism with participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group
MovementMoscow Helsinki Group, Strategy-31, other rights-related movements
SpouseNikolay Williams
AwardsState Prize of the Russian Federation, Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Olof Palme Prize, Légion d'honneur, Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Sakharov Prize

Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva (Russian: Людми́ла Миха́йловна Алексе́ева, IPA: [lʲʊˈdmʲilə ɐlʲɪˈksʲeɪvə]; 20 July 1927 – 8 December 2018)[1] was a Russian historian and human-rights activist who was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group[2] and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in post-Soviet Russia.[3]


Soviet period

In April 1968, Alexeyeva was expelled from the Communist Party and fired from her job at the publishing house.[4] Nonetheless, she continued her activities in defense of human rights. From 1968 to 1972 she worked clandestinely as a typist for the first underground bulletin The Chronicle of Current Events devoted to human rights violations in the USSR.[5]

In February 1977, Alexeyeva fled from the USSR to the United States following a crackdown against members of The Chronicle by Soviet authorities.[6] In the US Alexeyeva continued to advocate for human rights improvements in Russia and worked on a freelance basis for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America.[6] She became a US citizen in 1982.[7] She wrote regularly on the Soviet dissident movement for both English and Russian language publications in the US and elsewhere, and in 1985 she published the first comprehensive monograph on the history of the movement, Soviet Dissent (Wesleyan University Press).[8] In addition, after moving to the United States, Alexeyeva took up freelance radio journalism for Radio Liberty and the Russian language section of the Voice of America. In 1990 she published The Thaw Generation, an autobiography that described the formation of the Soviet dissident movement and was co-written with Paul Goldberg.[9]

Return to Russia

In 1989 she restarted the Moscow Helsinki Group following its dissolution in 1982.[10] In 1993, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, she returned to Russia, and she became a chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1996.[6] In 2000, Alexeyeva joined a commission set up to advise President Vladimir Putin on human rights issues, a move that triggered criticism from some other rights activists.[3]

Alexeyeva was critical of the Kremlin's human rights record and accused the government of numerous human rights violations including the regular prohibitions of non-violent meetings and demonstrations and encouragement of extremists with its nationalistic policies, such as the mass deportations of Georgians in 2006 and police raids against foreigners working in street markets.[11] She has also criticized the law enforcers' conduct in Ingushetia and has warned that growing violence in the republic may spread to the whole Russian Federation.[12] In 2006, she was accused by the Russian authorities of involvement with British intelligence and received threats from nationalist groups.[11][13]


Alexeyeva in the Strategy-31 protest, 2010

From August 31, 2009, Alexeyeva was an active participant in Strategy-31 – the regular protest rallies of citizens on Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square in defense of the 31st Article (On the Freedom of Assembly) of the Russian Constitution.[14] On December 31, 2009, during one of these attempted protests, Alexeyeva was detained by the riot police (OMON) and taken with scores of others to a police station. This event provoked strong reaction in Russia and abroad. Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament, was "deeply disappointed and shocked" at the treatment of Alexeyeva and others by the police.[15] The National Security Council of the United States expressed "dismay" at the detentions.[16] The New York Times published a front-page article about the protest rally ("Tested by Many Foes, Passion of a Russian Dissident Endures").[17]

On March 30, 2010, Alexeyeva was assaulted in the Park Kultury metro station by a man as she was paying respect to the victims of the 2010 Moscow Metro Bombings.[18][19] At the Lake Seliger youth camp,[20][21][22][23][24] the Nashi youth movement branded her "a Nazi" and an enemy of the Russian people.[25]

Alexeyeva was opposed to the 2014 Russian annexation of her native Crimea, saying "that the seizure of Crimea has shamed my country."[25] On her 90th birthday she was visited at her home by Russian president Vladimir Putin (accompanied by a cameraman), despite her longstanding criticism of him.[25]

She died in a Moscow hospital on 8 December 2018. No cause was given.[26] Alexeyeva's last words for publication were written to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although she actually died two days short of that anniversary. She lamented the weakening of civil society through state propaganda and manipulation, and she drew attention to the weakness of legal culture and of democratic institutions in contemporary Russia, as well as political cynicism and populism which - not just in Russia - treat carelessly the systems and institutions necessary to support human values.[27]

Awards and prizes

Alexeyeva received the following awards and prizes for her human rights activities:

Books, articles and interviews


  1. ^ "В Москве умерла правозащитница Людмила Алексеева". BBC Russian Service. 8 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  2. ^ New politics. New Politics Associates. 1989. p. 133.
  3. ^ a b Maria Danilova (15 June 2004). "Lyudmila Alexeyeva Speaks Her Mind". The St. Petersburg Times. No. #977 (45). Associated Press. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Russian Champion of Human Rights, Dies at 91". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  5. ^ Barry, Ellen (2010-01-11). "Russian Dissident's Passion Endures Despite Tests". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  6. ^ a b c "The Doyenne Of Russia's Human Rights Movement". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Алексеева отвергла намеки ТВ на ее связь со шпионами". BBC News Русская служба (in Russian). Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Soviet Dissent: Contemporary Movements for National, Religious, and Human Rights|Paperback". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  9. ^ Alexeyeva, Ludmilla; Goldberg, Paul (1990). The thaw generation: coming of age in the post-Stalin era. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 978-0822959113.
  10. ^ News (TNS), Henry Meyer Bloomberg. "Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Russian champion of human rights, dies at 91". Herald-Mail Media.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b Gregory Feifer (March 7, 2007), Russia's New Dissidents Defend Human Rights. National Public Radio.
  12. ^ Situation in Ingushetia Threatens All of Russia – Alexeyeva. The Other Russia website. September 22, 2008.
  13. ^ Russian NGO rejects spy 'smear'. The BBC News. January 23, 2006.
  14. ^ "Lyudmila Alexeyeva is 85". Human Rights in Ukraine. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  15. ^ Buzek: The EP appeals for the release of 2009 Sakharov Prize Winner Lyudmila Alexeyeva and other Russian human rights activists January 1, 2010
  16. ^ Russia: Rights Protesters Detained The New York Times, December 31, 2009
  17. ^ Russian Dissident's Passion Endures Despite Tests The New York Times, January 11, 2010
  18. ^ Узел, Кавказский. "Liudmila Alekseeva was attacked during the memory action at Moscow metro station". Caucasian Knot. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  19. ^ "What is Strategy 31?". openDemocracy. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  20. ^ Johan Bäckman (2010-07-23). "Päivi Hirvelä on natsi, Naši-nuorten mielestä" (in Finnish). Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee. Lay summary
  21. ^ На молодежном форуме "Селигер-2010" главу Московской Хельсинкской группы Людмилу Алексееву приравняли к фашистам (in Russian). Echo of Moscow. 2010-07-27.
  22. ^ В Селигере на кол насадили головы эстонских госдеятелей (in Russian). 2010-07-26.
  23. ^ Triin Tael (2010-07-26). "Vene noortelaagris aeti Eesti poliitikute pead teibasse". Õhtuleht (in Estonian). Archived from the original on 2010-07-29.
  24. ^ Anton Oreh [in Russian] (2010-07-29). Ждем ответа. Ежедневный журнал (in Russian).
  25. ^ a b c "Putin And Alekseyeva: A Study In Contrasts". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  26. ^ Lyudmila Alexeyeva: Russian human rights activist dies aged 91, BBC News (8 December 2018)
  27. ^ Людмила Алексеева / Lyudmila Alexeyeva (2018-12-09). ""Бескомпромиссно защищать жертв и стоять друг за друга" / "Uncompromising championing of victims and mutual solidarity"". Последнее слово Людмилы Михайловны Алексеевой. Публикуем ее обращение к правозащитникам / The last words of Lyudmila Alexeyeva: We publish her appeal to defenders of human rights. "Новая газета" / "Novaya Gazeta". Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  28. ^ "Prize recipients". Olof Palmes Minnesfond (in Swedish). Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Страница не найдена!". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  30. ^ "Légion d'Honneur pour Lioudmila Alexeeva, critique de Poutine". 7 Sur 7. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  31. ^ Sinelschikova, Yekaterina (28 September 2015). "Russia's oldest human rights activist is awarded Vaclav Havel Prize". Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  32. ^ Sakharov Prize 2009 awarded to Memorial
  33. ^ The Republic of Estonia honours 99 people with decorations on the eve of Independence Day Archived 2012-04-12 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2015 awarded to Ludmilla Alexeeva Archived 2015-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Подписан Указ о присуждении премий за достижения в области правозащиты и благотворительности". Президент России (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-06-06.

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