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Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the well-known Russian human rights activist and historian, passed away in Moscow on 8 December 2018. A founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, Alexeyeva remained active until her death at the age of 91. During her involvement in the underground publication "The Chronicle of Current Events" in the late 1960s, she became familiar with the Crimean Tatar National Movement and met many of the activists, including Mustafa Dzhemilev. She was a great supporter of the Crimean Tatars and their long struggle to return to homeland Crimea. We are pleased to publish here Mr. Dzhemilev's tribute to one of the great Soviet dissidents. (See also: The New York Times obituary, "Lyudmila Alexeyeva, ‘Grandmother’ of Russia’s Human Rights Movement, Dies at 91." )


 

Mustafa Dzhemilev's Tribute to Lyudmila Alexeyeva

 

Alexeyeva and Jemilev Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Alexeyeva is one of the most important figures in Soviet dissent. She was one of the first members of the Helsinki groups and she stayed in the human rights movement until her last days.

Although in her final years it became hard for her to move around, when we organized a dissidents’ forum she nevertheless joined us in Crimea; she said that she simply could not refuse such an invitation.

Before the occupation of Crimea, we met for the last time in Brussels in 2013. At that time, she interviewed me for a long time about the human rights status of Crimean Tatars. After the Brussels visit — which may have been her last trip — we kept in contact by telephone. Lyudmila always was a very warm, sincere and well-meaning person.

Her contributions to the human rights movement are very significant. Her [1985] book, “Soviet Dissent [Contemporary Movements for National, Religious and Human Rights]” has become an essential guide to that history. One could view Lyudmila Alexeyeva as a vital encyclopedia of the dissident movement: she researched every fate and knew details about every political prisoner.

In 1977, she emigrated to America, but kept close contact with those who remained in the Soviet Union. Some time before her emigration, we got to know each other personally. For six months, I lived in Petro Grigorenko’s [Moscow] apartment where she visited now and then. We became acquainted and had discussions. When she lived in the U.S., it was very hard to keep in touch. After she returned to Russia, of course we renewed our acquaintance.

Her position on Crimea was important for us. She condemned the 2014 Russian invasion, calling it “supreme stupidity.” She also strongly opposed the ban imposed on my presence in Crimea, calling it “petty.” I am very grateful to her for that. She was a true friend.

Lyudmila lived a long and productive life. My memory of her will always be warm.

Mustafa Dzhemilev


Translated into English by Catherine Cosman

Photo credits: RFE/RL
Posted: 12 March 2019


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