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Moscow Helsinki Group

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Moscow Helsinki Group
Московская Хельсинкская группа
Formation12 May 1976; 46 years ago (1976-05-12)
FounderYuri Orlov and others
Dissolved25 January 2023; 3 days ago (2023-01-25)
TypeNon-profit, NGO
Legal statusDefunct
PurposeMonitoring and protection of human rights
Headquarters22/1 Bolshoy Golovin Lane, Moscow, Russia
Chair (1976–1982)
Yuri Orlov
Chair (1989–1994)
Larisa Bogoraz
Chair (1994–1996)
Kronid Lyubarsky
Chair (1996–2018)
Lyudmila Alexeyeva (from 2019 three co-chairs)
Parent organization
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
SubsidiariesWorking Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes
Websitewww.mhg.ru

The Moscow Helsinki Group (also known as the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, Russian: Московская Хельсинкская группа) was one of Russia's leading human rights organisations.[1] It was originally set up in 1976[2] to monitor Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Accords[3] and to report to the West on Soviet human rights abuses.[4]: 414  It had been forced out of existence in the early 1980s, but was revived in 1989[5] and continued to operate in Russia.

In the 1970s, Moscow Helsinki Group inspired the formation of similar groups in other Warsaw Pact countries and support groups in the West. Within the former Soviet Union Helsinki Watch Groups were founded in Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia and Armenia, as well as in the United States (Helsinki Watch, later Human Rights Watch). Similar initiatives sprung up in countries such as Czechoslovakia, with Charter 77. Eventually, the Helsinki monitoring groups inspired by the Moscow Helsinki Group formed the International Helsinki Federation.

In late December 2022 the Russian Ministry of Justice filed a court order to dissolve the organization.[6] On 25 January 2023, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Moscow City Court ruled that the Moscow Helsinki Group must be dissolved citing group's activities outside of its region, Moscow.[7]

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Helsinki Accords

Helsinki Accords

The Helsinki Final Act, also known as Helsinki Accords or Helsinki Declaration was the document signed at the closing meeting of the third phase of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland, between 30 July and 1 August 1975, following two years of negotiations known as the Helsinki Process. All then-existing European countries as well as the United States and Canada, altogether 35 participating states, signed the Final Act in an attempt to improve the détente between the East and the West. The Helsinki Accords, however, were not binding as they did not have treaty status that would have to be ratified by parliaments. Sometimes the term "Helsinki pact(s)" was also used unofficially.

Warsaw Pact

Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact (WP) or Treaty of Warsaw, formally the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The term "Warsaw Pact" commonly refers to both the treaty itself and its resultant defensive alliance, the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1955 as per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954.

Ukrainian Helsinki Group

Ukrainian Helsinki Group

The Ukrainian Helsinki Group was founded on November 9, 1976, as the "Ukrainian Public Group to Promote the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords on Human Rights" to monitor human rights in Ukraine. The group was active until 1981 when all members were jailed.

Lithuanian Helsinki Group

Lithuanian Helsinki Group

The Lithuanian Helsinki Group was a dissident organization active in the Lithuanian SSR, one of the republics of the Soviet Union, in 1975–83. Established to monitor the implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as Helsinki Accords, it was the first human rights organization in Lithuania. The group published over 30 documents that exposed religious repressions, limitations on freedom of movement, political abuse of psychiatry, discrimination of minorities, persecution of human right activists, and other violations of human rights in the Soviet Union. Most of the documents reached the West and were published by other human rights groups. Members of the group were persecuted by the Soviet authorities. Its activities diminished after it lost members due to deaths, emigration, or imprisonment, though it was never formally disbanded. Some of the group's functions were taken over by the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers, founded by five priests in 1978. Upon his release from prison, Viktoras Petkus reestablished the Lithuanian Helsinki Group in 1988.

Georgia (country)

Georgia (country)

Georgia is a transcontinental country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is part of the Caucasus region, bounded by the Black Sea to the west, by Russia to the north and northeast, by Turkey to the southwest, by Armenia to the south, and by Azerbaijan to the southeast. The country covers an area of 69,700 square kilometres (26,900 sq mi), and has a population of 3.7 million people. Tbilisi is its capital as well as its largest city, home to roughly a third of the Georgian population.

Armenia

Armenia

Armenia, officially the Republic of Armenia, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia. It is a part of the Caucasus region; and is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the Lachin corridor and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south. Yerevan is the capital, largest city and the financial center.

Helsinki Watch

Helsinki Watch

Helsinki Watch was a private American non-governmental organization established by Robert L. Bernstein in 1978, designed to monitor the former Soviet Union's compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Expanding in size and scope, Helsinki Watch began using media coverage to document human-rights violations committed by abusive governments. Since its inception, it produced several other watch committees dedicated to monitoring human rights in other parts of the world. In 1988, Helsinki Watch and its companion watch committees combined to form Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization headquartered in New York City that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policymakers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.

Charter 77

Charter 77

Charter 77 was an informal civic initiative in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic from 1976 to 1992, named after the document Charter 77 from January 1977. Founding members and architects were Jiří Němec, Václav Benda, Ladislav Hejdánek, Václav Havel, Jan Patočka, Zdeněk Mlynář, Jiří Hájek, Martin Palouš, Pavel Kohout, and Ladislav Lis. Spreading the text of the document was considered a political crime by the Czechoslovak government. After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, many of the members of the initiative played important roles in Czech and Slovak politics.

Ministry of Justice (Russia)

Ministry of Justice (Russia)

The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation is a ministry of the Government of Russia responsible for the legal system and penal system.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Moscow

Moscow

Moscow is the capital and largest city of Russia. The city stands on the Moskva River in Central Russia, with a population estimated at 13.0 million residents within the city limits, over 17 million residents in the urban area, and over 21.5 million residents in the metropolitan area. The city covers an area of 2,511 square kilometers (970 sq mi), while the urban area covers 5,891 square kilometers (2,275 sq mi), and the metropolitan area covers over 26,000 square kilometers (10,000 sq mi). Moscow is among the world's largest cities; being the most populous city entirely in Europe, the largest urban and metropolitan area in Europe, and the largest city by land area on the European continent.

Founding and goals

On 1 August 1975, the Soviet Union became one of the 35 nations to sign the Helsinki Accords during the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Helsinki, Finland. Although the Soviet Union had signed the Accords primarily due to foreign policy considerations, it ultimately accepted a text containing unprecedented human rights provisions. The so-called "Third Basket" of the Accords obliged the signatories to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief." The signatories also confirmed "the right of the individual to know and act upon his rights and duties in this field."[8][9]: 99–100 

The "Public Group to Promote Fulfillment of the Helsinki Accords in the USSR" was the idea of physicist Yuri Orlov, based on previous one-and-a-half-decade-old experience of dissent.[10] Taking advantage of international publicity of the Helsinki Accords and contacts to Western journalists, on 12 May 1976 Orlov announced the formation of the Moscow Helsinki Group at a press-conference held at the apartment of Andrei Sakharov.[11]

The newly inaugurated Moscow Helsinki Group was to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Final Act. In its founding statement, the Group announced its goal to inform the heads of the signatory states as well as the world public "about cases of direct violations" of the Helsinki Accords.[12] It announced that it would accept information on violations of these articles from citizens and compile documents on them.[13]: 338 

Apart from Yuri Orlov, the Group's founding members were Anatoly Shcharansky, Lyudmila Alekseeva, Alexander Korchak, Malva Landa, Vitaly Rubin, Yelena Bonner, Alexander Ginzburg, Anatoly Marchenko, Petro Grigorenko, and Mikhail Bernshtam.[14]: 58  Ten other people, including Sofia Kalistratova, Naum Meiman, Yuri Mnyukh, Viktor Nekipelov, Tatiana Osipova, Felix Serebrov, Vladimir Slepak, Leonard Ternovsky, and Yuri Yarym-Agaev joined the Group later.[15]

The composition of the Moscow Helsinki Group was a deliberate attempt to bring together a diverse set of leading dissidents, and worked as a bridge between human rights activists, those focused on the rights of refuseniks and national minorities or on religious and economic issues, as well as between workers and intellectuals.[14]: 58–59 

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Soviet Union

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen national republics; in practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the city of Moscow serving as its capital as well as that of its largest and most populous republic: the Russian SFSR. Other major cities included Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It was the largest country in the world, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi) and spanning eleven time zones.

Helsinki Accords

Helsinki Accords

The Helsinki Final Act, also known as Helsinki Accords or Helsinki Declaration was the document signed at the closing meeting of the third phase of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland, between 30 July and 1 August 1975, following two years of negotiations known as the Helsinki Process. All then-existing European countries as well as the United States and Canada, altogether 35 participating states, signed the Final Act in an attempt to improve the détente between the East and the West. The Helsinki Accords, however, were not binding as they did not have treaty status that would have to be ratified by parliaments. Sometimes the term "Helsinki pact(s)" was also used unofficially.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital, primate, and most populous city of Finland. Located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it is the seat of the region of Uusimaa in southern Finland, and has a population of 658,864. The city's urban area has a population of 1,268,296, making it by far the most populous urban area in Finland as well as the country's most important center for politics, education, finance, culture, and research. Helsinki is located 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 km (250 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 km (190 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. It has close historical ties with these three cities.

Finland

Finland

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east, with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south, across from Estonia. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.6 million. Helsinki is the capital and largest city. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Finns. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, Swedish is the native language of 5.2% of the population. Finland's climate varies from humid continental in the south to the boreal in the north. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident, nobel laureate and activist for nuclear disarmament, peace, and human rights.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva was a Russian historian and human-rights activist who was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in post-Soviet Russia.

Alexander Ginzburg

Alexander Ginzburg

Alexander "Alik" Ilyich Ginzburg, was a Russian journalist, poet, human rights activist and dissident. Between 1961 and 1969 he was sentenced three times to labor camps. In 1979, Ginzburg was released and expelled to the United States, along with four other political prisoners and their families, as part of a prisoner exchange.

Anatoly Marchenko

Anatoly Marchenko

Anatoly Tikhonovich Marchenko was a Soviet dissident, author, and human rights campaigner, who became one of the first two recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament when it was awarded to him posthumously in 1988.

Naum Meiman

Naum Meiman

Naum Natanovich Meiman was a Soviet mathematician, and dissident. He is known for his work in complex analysis, partial differential equations, and mathematical physics, as well as for his dissident activity, in particular, for being a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Viktor Nekipelov

Viktor Nekipelov

Viktor Aleksandrovich Nekipelov was a Soviet Russian poet, writer, Soviet dissident, and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. He spent about nine years in prison for his participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Vladimir Slepak

Vladimir Slepak

Vladimir Semyonovich Slepak was a Soviet dissident, refusenik, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Along with his wife Mariya Slepak and sons Alexander and Leonid he fought for the right of Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

Refusenik

Refusenik

Refusenik was an unofficial term for individuals—typically, but not exclusively, Soviet Jews—who were denied permission to emigrate, primarily to Israel, by the authorities of the Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern bloc. The term refusenik is derived from the "refusal" handed down to a prospective emigrant from the Soviet authorities.

Activities

Yuri Orlov, a founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, in 1986
Yuri Orlov, a founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, in 1986

Western radio stations such Voice of America and Radio Liberty helped disseminate news about the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, leading to relatively broad awareness throughout the Soviet Union. Soviet citizens who learned about the existence of the group passed on written complaints to members, or in many cases found a group member in person to report a firsthand case of abuse when in Moscow. The members of the Helsinki group also traveled throughout the Soviet Union to conduct research on compliance with the Helsinki Final Act.

After verifying the complaint, when possible, the Group would issue reports on the violations they observed. The reports typically included a survey of a specific case, followed by a discussion of the human rights violations relevant to the Helsinki and other international accords as well as the Soviet constitution and law. The documents closed with a call for action by the signatory states.[16]: 150 

The Helsinki Group would then campaign internationally by passing on the reports on the violations for publication abroad, calling for intervention by the other signatory states. The Group's strategy was to make thirty-five copies of each document and send them by registered mail to the thirty-four Moscow embassies affiliated with the CSCE and directly to Leonid Brezhnev. Moscow Helsinki Group members also met with foreign correspondents to reach audiences beyond the Soviet Union. Western journalists, in particular those posted to Moscow bureaus or working for the Voice of America or Radio Liberty, also disseminated the information and were essential to the development of a broader Helsinki network.[14]: 63  The CSCE translated all documents it received and forwarded them to other CSCE states and interested groups.[14]: 65  The Group's complaints would also be forwarded for review at the international follow-up meetings to Helsinki, including the 1977 Belgrade meeting and the 1980 meeting in Madrid.[16]: 149 

In addition, the documents and appeals were circulated via samizdat. Many documents that reached the West were republished in periodicals such as the Cahiers du Samizdat and the Samizdat Bulletin.

Moscow Helsinki Group members Yuliya Vishnevskya, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Dina Kaminskaya and Kronid Lyubarsky in Munich, 1978
Moscow Helsinki Group members Yuliya Vishnevskya, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Dina Kaminskaya and Kronid Lyubarsky in Munich, 1978

Over time, the Group's documents focused on a wide range of issues, including national self-determination, the right to choose one's residence, emigration and the right of return, freedom of belief, the right to monitor human rights, the right to a fair trial, the rights of political prisoners, and the abuse of psychiatry.[14]: 63 

In the six years of its existence in the Soviet Union, the Moscow Helsinki Group compiled a total of 195 such reports. Between 12 May 1976 and 6 September 1982, when the last three members who were not imprisoned announced the Group would discontinue its work, the Group also compiled numerous appeals to the signatory states, trade unions in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the world public.[16]: 150 

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Voice of America

Voice of America

Voice of America is the state-owned news network and international radio broadcaster of the United States of America. It is the largest and oldest U.S.-funded international broadcaster. VOA produces digital, TV, and radio content in 48 languages, which it distributes to affiliate stations around the world. Its targeted and primary audience is non-American.

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent U.S. government agency created by Congress in 1975 to monitor and encourage compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and other Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) commitments. It was initiated by House representative Millicent Fenwick and established in 1975 pursuant to Public Law No. 94-304 and is based at the Ford House Office Building.

Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was a Soviet politician who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between 1964 and 1982 and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet between 1960 and 1964 and again between 1977 and 1982. His 18-year term as General Secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin's in duration. Brezhnev's tenure as General Secretary remains debated by historians; while his rule was characterised by political stability and significant foreign policy successes, it was also marked by corruption, inefficiency, economic stagnation, and rapidly growing technological gaps with the West.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States government funded organization that broadcasts and reports news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus, and the Middle East where it says that "the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed". RFE/RL is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation supervised by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, an independent government agency overseeing all U.S. federal government international broadcasting services. Jeremy Bransten is acting editor-in-chief of RFE.

Samizdat

Samizdat

Samizdat was a form of dissident activity across the Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground makeshift publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader. The practice of manual reproduction was widespread, because most typewriters and printing devices required official registration and permission to access. This was a grassroots practice used to evade official Soviet censorship.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva was a Russian historian and human-rights activist who was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in post-Soviet Russia.

Dina Kaminskaya

Dina Kaminskaya

Dina Isaakovna Kaminskaya was a lawyer and human rights activist in the Soviet Union who was forced to emigrate in 1977 to avoid arrest. She and her husband moved to the United States. She was born in Yekaterinoslav.

Kronid Lyubarsky

Kronid Lyubarsky

Kronid Arkadyevich Lyubarsky was a Russian journalist, dissident, human rights activist and political prisoner.

Munich

Munich

Munich is the capital and most populous city of the German state of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and thus the largest which does not constitute its own state, as well as the 11th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, Munich is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

United States

United States

The United States of America, commonly known as the United States or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. The United States is also in free association with three Pacific Island sovereign states: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. It is the world's third-largest country by both land and total area. It shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south. The U.S. has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations. With a population of over 333 million, it is the most populous country in the Americas and the third most populous in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C. and the most populous city and financial center is New York City.

Canada

Canada

Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Europe

Europe

Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Comprising the westernmost peninsulas of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Africa and Asia. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Asia to the east. Europe is commonly considered to be separated from Asia by the watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Greater Caucasus, the Black Sea and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.

Working Commission on Psychiatry for Political Purposes

In January 1977, Alexander Podrabinek along with a 47-year-old self-educated worker Feliks Serebrov, a 30-year-old computer programmer Vyacheslav Bakhmin and Irina Kuplun established the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes.[17]: 148  The Commission was formally linked to[17]: 148  and constituted as an offshoot of the Moscow Helsinki Group.[18][19] It was composed of five open members and several anonymous ones, including a few psychiatrists who, at great danger to themselves, conducted their own independent examinations of cases of alleged psychiatric abuse.[20]

The members of the Working Commission were subjected to various terms and types of punishments.[21]: 45  Alexander Podrabinek was sentenced to five years' internal exile, Irina Grivnina to five years' internal exile, Vyacheslav Bakhmin to three years in a labour camp, Dr Leonard Ternovsky to three years' labour camp, Dr Anatoly Koryagin to eight years’ imprisonment and labour camp and four years’ internal exile, Dr Alexander Voloshanovich was sent to voluntary exile.[22]: 153 

Persecution

Members of the Moscow Helsinki Group were threatened by the KGB, imprisoned, exiled or forced to emigrate.[23]: 7858  In 1977, KGB head Yuri Andropov said: "The need has thus emerged to terminate the actions of Orlov, fellow Helsinki monitor Alexander Ginzburg and others once and for all, on the basis of existing law."[14]: 73 

The first arrests of members of the Moscow Helsinki Group were carried out by Soviet authorities in early 1977. They followed an explosion in the Moscow metro on 8 January, after the Soviet press linked dissidents to the attack. Following the attack, Andrei Sakharov accused the KGB of a deliberate attempt to discredit dissidents in order to facilitate their persecution. The Moscow and Ukrainian Helsinki Groups and the Russian section of Amnesty International issued a joint statement denying any participation in the attack and emphasized their adherence to the principle of non-violent protest.[16]: 151 

During the following year, a number of members were sentenced to prison camps, incarcerated in psychiatric institutions, and sent into internal exile within the USSR:[24]

  • Yuri Orlov - sentenced on 18 May 1978 to seven years in strict-regime camps followed by five years of internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70, RSFSR Criminal Code);
  • Vladimir Slepak - sentenced on 21 June 1978 to five years' internal exile for "malicious hooliganism" (Article 206);
  • Anatoly Shcharansky - sentenced on 14 July 1978 to three years in prison and 10 years in strict-regime camps for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70) and "Treason" (Article 64-a). In October 1981 he was sentenced to return to prison for a further three years;
  • Malva Landa - sentenced on 26 March 1980 to five years' internal exile for "anti-Soviet fabrications" (Article 190-1);
  • Viktor Nekipelov - sentenced on 13 June 1980 to seven years in labour camps and five years' internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70);
  • Leonard Ternovsky (also a member of the Psychiatric Working Group) - sentenced on 30 December 1980 to three years in ordinary-regime camps for "anti-Soviet fabrications" (Article 190-1);
  • Feliks Serebrov (also a member of the Psychiatric Working Group) - sentenced on 21 July 1981, to four years in strict-regime camps plus five years' exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70). Earlier sentenced in 1977 to one year in the camps;
  • Tatiana Osipova - sentenced on 2 April 1981 to five years in ordinary-regime camps and five years' internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70);
  • Anatoly Marchenko - sentenced on 4 September 1981 to ten years in special-regime camps plus five years' internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70);
  • Ivan Kovalev was sentenced on 2 April 1982, to five years of strict-regime camps plus five years' internal exile for "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70).

The Soviet authorities encouraged other activists to emigrate. Lyudmila Alexeyeva left the Soviet Union in February 1977. Founding members of the Moscow Helsinki Group emigrated - Mikhail Bernshtam, Alexander Korchak and Vitaly Rubin. Pyotr Grigorenko was stripped of his Soviet citizenship in November 1977 while seeking medical treatment abroad.[14]: 75 

By the early 1980s, the members of the Moscow Helsinki Group were scattered between prisons, camps and exile in the USSR, while others lived abroad.[25] At the end of 1981 only Elena Bonner, Sofia Kalistratova and Naum Meiman remained free. The dissolution of the Moscow Helsinki Group was officially announced by Elena Bonner on 8 September 1982.[26]: 35 

According to Sergei Grigoryants, Elena Bonner announced the dissolution of the Helsinki Group not only because of the direct threat of an arrest to the 75-year-old Sofia Kalistratova, against whom legal action had already been taken, but also because the Helsinki Group became a channel for the emigration of those who wished to go abroad and, in some cases, apparently, for the penetration abroad of KGB agents adopting the image of "dissidents".[27]

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KGB

KGB

The KGB was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 13 March 1954 until 3 December 1991. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, it was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", carrying out internal security, foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence and secret-police functions. Similar agencies operated in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from the Russian SFSR, with many associated ministries, state committees and state commissions.

Alexander Ginzburg

Alexander Ginzburg

Alexander "Alik" Ilyich Ginzburg, was a Russian journalist, poet, human rights activist and dissident. Between 1961 and 1969 he was sentenced three times to labor camps. In 1979, Ginzburg was released and expelled to the United States, along with four other political prisoners and their families, as part of a prisoner exchange.

Moscow Metro

Moscow Metro

The Moscow Metro is a metro system serving the Russian capital of Moscow as well as the neighbouring cities of Krasnogorsk, Reutov, Lyubertsy and Kotelniki in Moscow Oblast. Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union.

Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident, nobel laureate and activist for nuclear disarmament, peace, and human rights.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and supporters around the world. The stated mission of the organization is to campaign for "a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments." The organization has played a notable role on human rights issues due to its frequent citation in media and by world leaders.

Anti-Soviet agitation

Anti-Soviet agitation

Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda (ASA) was a criminal offence in the Soviet Union. To begin with the term was interchangeably used with counter-revolutionary agitation. The latter term was in use immediately after the first Russian Revolution in February 1917. The offence was codified in criminal law in the 1920s, and revised in the 1950s in two articles of the RSFSR Criminal Code. The offence was widely used against Soviet dissidents.

Malva Landa

Malva Landa

Malva Noyivna Landa was a Ukrainian-born Soviet-Russian dissident, publicist, and geologist. She was the author of multiple articles about human rights, the translator of number of humanitarian essays from English to Russian, and a veteran of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union, being a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group from its founding in 1976. She received the Officer of the Order of the Cross of Vytis.

Viktor Nekipelov

Viktor Nekipelov

Viktor Aleksandrovich Nekipelov was a Soviet Russian poet, writer, Soviet dissident, and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. He spent about nine years in prison for his participation in the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Anatoly Marchenko

Anatoly Marchenko

Anatoly Tikhonovich Marchenko was a Soviet dissident, author, and human rights campaigner, who became one of the first two recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of the European Parliament when it was awarded to him posthumously in 1988.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva was a Russian historian and human-rights activist who was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in post-Soviet Russia.

Naum Meiman

Naum Meiman

Naum Natanovich Meiman was a Soviet mathematician, and dissident. He is known for his work in complex analysis, partial differential equations, and mathematical physics, as well as for his dissident activity, in particular, for being a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Sergei Grigoryants

Sergei Grigoryants

Sergei Ivanovich Grigoryants is a Soviet dissident and former political prisoner, journalist, literary critic, chairman of the Glasnost Defense Foundation. He was imprisoned for 10 years in Chistopol jail as a political prisoner for anti-Soviet activities, from 1975 to 1980 and then four more years starting in 1983 on similar charges.

Helsinki network

The Moscow Helsinki Group became the center of the new network of humanitarian protest in the USSR.[5] Following the formation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Helsinki watch groups were formed in Lithuania (November 1976), Ukraine (November 1976), Georgia (January 1977) and Armenia (April 1977). Other protest groups announced their formation at press conferences held by the Moscow Helsinki Group, such as the Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes, the Christian Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Religious Believers, and other associations.[5]

In June 1976, the group's appeal to U.S. congresswoman Millicent Fenwick persuaded her to lead the creation of the U.S. Helsinki Commission (see the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe), which included senators, congress members, and representatives from the State, Defense, and Commerce Departments.[5]

In 1978, Helsinki Watch was founded in the U.S. The private NGO became the most influential Western NGO devoted to Helsinki monitoring.[14]: 115  Its mandate was to produce reports on human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the United States, first of all for the next meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) which was due to open in Madrid in 1980.[14]: 116  In 1988, Helsinki Watch evolved into Human Rights Watch.

In 1982, the Helsinki monitoring groups of Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States formed the International Helsinki Federation.[28][29]

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Lithuanian Helsinki Group

Lithuanian Helsinki Group

The Lithuanian Helsinki Group was a dissident organization active in the Lithuanian SSR, one of the republics of the Soviet Union, in 1975–83. Established to monitor the implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as Helsinki Accords, it was the first human rights organization in Lithuania. The group published over 30 documents that exposed religious repressions, limitations on freedom of movement, political abuse of psychiatry, discrimination of minorities, persecution of human right activists, and other violations of human rights in the Soviet Union. Most of the documents reached the West and were published by other human rights groups. Members of the group were persecuted by the Soviet authorities. Its activities diminished after it lost members due to deaths, emigration, or imprisonment, though it was never formally disbanded. Some of the group's functions were taken over by the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers, founded by five priests in 1978. Upon his release from prison, Viktoras Petkus reestablished the Lithuanian Helsinki Group in 1988.

Ukrainian Helsinki Group

Ukrainian Helsinki Group

The Ukrainian Helsinki Group was founded on November 9, 1976, as the "Ukrainian Public Group to Promote the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords on Human Rights" to monitor human rights in Ukraine. The group was active until 1981 when all members were jailed.

Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes

Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes

The Working Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Purposes was an offshoot of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a key source of information on psychiatric repression in the Soviet Union.

Millicent Fenwick

Millicent Fenwick

Millicent Vernon Hammond Fenwick was an American fashion editor, politician and diplomat. A four-term Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey, she entered politics late in life and was renowned for her energy and colorful enthusiasm. She was regarded as a moderate and progressive within her party and was outspoken in favor of civil rights and the women's movement.

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent U.S. government agency created by Congress in 1975 to monitor and encourage compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and other Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) commitments. It was initiated by House representative Millicent Fenwick and established in 1975 pursuant to Public Law No. 94-304 and is based at the Ford House Office Building.

Helsinki Watch

Helsinki Watch

Helsinki Watch was a private American non-governmental organization established by Robert L. Bernstein in 1978, designed to monitor the former Soviet Union's compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Expanding in size and scope, Helsinki Watch began using media coverage to document human-rights violations committed by abusive governments. Since its inception, it produced several other watch committees dedicated to monitoring human rights in other parts of the world. In 1988, Helsinki Watch and its companion watch committees combined to form Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization headquartered in New York City that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policymakers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.

Rebirth

In July 1989, the Moscow Helsinki Group was re-established by human rights activists Vyacheslav Bakhmin, Larisa Bogoraz, Sergei Kovalev, Alexey Smirnov, Lev Timofeev, and Boris Zolotukhin.[23] Other prominent members are Yuri Orlov, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Henri Reznik, Lev Ponomarev, and Aleksei Simonov.[15]

The chair of the re-established Moscow Helsinki Group was Larisa Bogoraz, followed in 1994 by Kronid Lubarsky. In May 1996, Lyudmila Alexeyeva (who returned from emigration in 1993) became its head, leading it until her death in 2018. In November 1998, she was also elected president of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.[15]

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Larisa Bogoraz

Larisa Bogoraz

Larisa Iosifovna Bogoraz was a dissident in the Soviet Union.

Sergei Kovalev

Sergei Kovalev

Sergei Adamovich Kovalyov was a Russian human rights activist and politician. During the Soviet period he was a dissident and, after 1975, a political prisoner.

Lev Timofeev

Lev Timofeev

Lev Timofeev is a Russian economist, political commentator and novelist. The son of a high-ranking government official, Timofeev graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Yuri Orlov

Yuri Orlov

Yuri Fyodorovich Orlov was a particle accelerator physicist, human rights activist, Soviet dissident, founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a founding member of the Soviet Amnesty International group, and Professor of Physics at Cornell University. He was declared a prisoner of conscience while serving nine years in prison and internal exile for monitoring the Helsinki human rights accords as a founder of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Lyudmila Mikhaylovna Alexeyeva was a Russian historian and human-rights activist who was a founding member in 1976 of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group and one of the last Soviet dissidents active in post-Soviet Russia.

Henri Reznik

Henri Reznik

Henri Markovich Reznik, also Genri Reznik is a prominent Russian lawyer, former criminal investigator and criminologist. He chaired the presidium of the Moscow City Bar Association.

Kronid Lyubarsky

Kronid Lyubarsky

Kronid Arkadyevich Lyubarsky was a Russian journalist, dissident, human rights activist and political prisoner.

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) was a self-governing group of non-governmental organizations that acted to protect human rights throughout Europe, North America and Central Asia. A specific primary goal was to monitor compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and its follow-up documents.

2010s and 2020s

In 2012, the Moscow Helsinki Group renounced foreign funding and connections in order avoid being labeled as a foreign agent in compliance with the Russian foreign agent law.[30]

In 2015, the Moscow Helsinki Group continued fighting against being labeled as a "foreign agent".[31]

As of 2021, MHG is co-chaired by two participants of the Soviet-era dissident movement - Vyacheslav Bakhmin (political prisoner in 1980-84) and Valery Borshchev (formerly Duma deputy from the opposition Yabloko party).[32] Two of its main projects include: annual reports on the human rights situation in Russia;[33] monitoring police activities;[34] and educational programs.[35] In September 2021, MHG issued a statement denouncing the non-transparency of electronic voting used in the preceding elections to the Duma and urging Russia's board of elections to cancel electronic voting results.[36]

Dissolution

On 20 December 2022 the Russian Justice Ministry filed a court order seeking to dissolve the organization.[6] The Justice Ministry claimed that the organization's own charters do not meet the requirements of the law[37] and authorities alleged that they also prohibit it from defending human rights outside of Moscow, which co-chair Valery Borshchev dismissed as "nonsense".[38] Borshchev described the dissolution, which was ordered on 25 January, as "a serious blow to the human rights movement not only in Russia but also the world".[7]

Criticism

Opinions differed as to the effectiveness and impact of the revived Moscow Helsinki Group. In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was no longer alone, but one among a variety of new organisations (Memorial, For Human Rights, the Glasnost Defence Foundation) that were engaged in defending human rights and freedom of expression, and carrying out missions to hot-spots in different parts of the USSR and, later, in Russia (above all, Chechnya).

Human rights activist Sergei Grigoryants, founder of the Glasnost periodical, was particularly scathing. Instead of the heroic and sacrificial traditions of the original Helsinki Groups, the re-established body was an intelligentsia-oriented elite club, forgotten by all. In 2001 he described it as "the most servile and pro-government" among NGOs then existing in Russia.[27]

Source: "Moscow Helsinki Group", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 28th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Helsinki_Group.

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References
  1. ^ Bowring, Bill (2008). "European minority protection: the past and future of a "major historical achievement"". International Journal on Minority and Group Rights. 15 (2): 413–425. doi:10.1163/157181108X332686.
  2. ^ ""A new public association", Chronicle of Currents, 40.13, 20 May 1976". Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  3. ^ Selim, Jamal (2015). "Global civil society and Egypt's transition: the dynamics of the boomerang effect". The international dimensions of democratization in Egypt. Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace. Vol. 11. Springer International Publishing. pp. 105–122. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16700-8_7. ISBN 978-3-319-16699-5.
  4. ^ McMahon, Robert; Zeiler, Thomas (2012). Guide to U.S. foreign policy: a diplomatic history. CQ Press. p. 414. ISBN 978-1452235363.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Moscow Helsinki Group 30th anniversary: from the secret files (a selection of translated KGB/CPSU documents discussing MHG)". The George Washington University.
  6. ^ a b "Russia's Justice Ministry Seeks Dissolution of Moscow Helsinki Group". The Moscow Times. 20 December 2022. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Moscow Helsinki Group Ordered To Shut Down As Campaign Against Civil Society Continues", Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 25 January 2023
  8. ^ "Helsinki Final Act, Section VII".
  9. ^ Thomas, Daniel (2001). The Helsinki effect: international norms, human rights, and the demise of Communism. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691048598.
  10. ^ Светов, Феликс (2001). "В одну реку дважды…" [Into the same river twice…]. Неприкосновенный запас (in Russian). 3 (17).
  11. ^ Ben Nighthorse Campbell (10 May 2001). "The Moscow Helsinki Group". www.csce.gov. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  12. ^ “Ob obrazovanii obshchestvennoy gruppy sodeystviya vypolneniyu khel’sinkskikh soglasheniy v SSSR – The Formation of the Public Group to Promote Observance of the Helsinki Agreements in the USSR” of the Moscow Helsinki Group, reprinted in Dokumenty Moskovskoy Khel’sinkskoy gruppy, 1976–1982, eds. G. V. Kuzovkin and D. I. Zubarev (Moscow, 2006)
  13. ^ Alexeyeva, Lyudmila (1987). Soviet Dissent: Contemporary Movements for National, Religious, and Human Rights. Carol Pearce, John Glad (trans.). Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6176-3.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Snyder, Sarah (2011). Human rights activism and the end of the Cold War: a transnational history of the Helsinki network. Human rights in history. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107645103.
  15. ^ a b c "Moscow Helsinki Group (Public Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords in the USSR, Moscow Group "Helsinki")". Moscow Helsinki Group.
  16. ^ a b c d Wawra, Ernst (2010). "The Helsinki Final Act and the Civil and Human Rights Movement in the Soviet Union". Human Rights And History: A Challenge for Education. Berlin: Stiftung "Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft". pp. 142–154. ISBN 9783981063196.
  17. ^ a b Voren, Robert van (2010). Cold War in psychiatry: human factors, secret actors. Amsterdam–New York: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-3046-6.
  18. ^ Reddaway, Peter (23 February 1978). "More psychiatric terror". The New York Review of Books.
  19. ^ Burns, John (26 July 1981). "Moscow silencing psychiatry critics". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  20. ^ "The spread of Soviet suppression". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 78 (1104): 493. 25 May 1978.
  21. ^ Voren, Robert van (2009). On dissidents and madness: from the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin. Amsterdam–New York: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-2585-1.
  22. ^ Medicine betrayed: the participation of doctors in human rights abuses. Zed Books. 1992. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-85649-104-4.
  23. ^ a b Smith, Christopher (8–17 May 2006). "Thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Moscow Helsinki Group". Congressional Record. Vol. 57, Part 6. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 7857–7858. ISBN 978-0160862205.
  24. ^ "Appendix B. Imprisoned members of the Helsinki monitoring groups in the USSR and Lithuania". Implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: findings and recommendations seven years after Helsinki. Report submitted to the Congress of the United States by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. November 1982. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1982. p. 249. Archived from the original (PDF, immediate download) on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  25. ^ Shanker, Thom (1 October 1986). "Bitter Siberian ordeal ends at last for Yuri Orlov". Bangor Daily News. p. 9.
  26. ^ Nuti, Leopoldo (2009). The crisis of détente in Europe: from Helsinki to Gorbachev, 1975–1985. Taylor & Francis. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-415-46051-4.
  27. ^ a b Григорьянц, Сергей (2001). Прощание: Гибель правозащитного демократического движения в России [Farewell: The death of human rights democratic movement in Russia]. Index on Censorship (in Russian) (16).
  28. ^ "INTERNATIONAL HELSINKI FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (IHF)". ecoi.net. 2019-12-05. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  29. ^ "International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights". 2008-04-21. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  30. ^ "Timeline: Forty Years Of The Moscow Helsinki Group". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  31. ^ Whitmore, Brian (30 July 2015). "R.I.P. Helsinki Accords". Radio Liberty.
  32. ^ "Исторический очерк | Московская Хельсинкская группа" [Historical background | Moscow Helsinki Group]. www.mhg.ru. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  33. ^ "Ежегодные доклады | Московская Хельсинкская группа" [Annual Reports | Moscow Helsinki Group]. www.mhg.ru. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  34. ^ "Главная | Гражданин и полиция" [Home | Citizen and Police]. police.mhg.ru. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  35. ^ "Правозащитные чтения | Московская Хельсинкская группа" [Human rights readings | Moscow Helsinki Group]. www.mhg.ru. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  36. ^ "МХГ заявляет о неприемлемости электронного голосования" [MHG declares electronic voting to be unacceptable]. Moscow Helsinki Group (in Russian). 2021-09-27. Archived from the original on 2021-10-27. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  37. ^ "The Moscow City Court will consider the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice on the liquidation and ban of the Moscow Helsinki Group". Radio Liberty (in Russian). 20 December 2022. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  38. ^ "Moscow Tries to Close One of Russia's Oldest Human Rights Groups". Voice of America. 20 December 2022. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
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