Foreign Policy Names Kasparov, Alexeyeva Among Top Dissidents

The Washington-based magazine Foreign Policy has an article out today dedicated to what it says are some of the world’s top dissidents. “From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, China to Peru, dissidents are working tirelessly for the liberties so many take for granted,” the article reads. “Their fight isn’t an easy one — dissidents often pay a price for their work in the form of surveillance, kidnappings, beatings, assassinations, arrests, and torture.”

To be sure, these are methods of repression that many oppositionists in Russia are well acquainted with. While the majority of such cases go largely unreported, a few prominent individuals do stand out as longtime activists who have succeded in attracting international attention to their causes. Among these are former Soviet dissident and longtime rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva and United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov, whom Foreign Policy features on the opening page of its article:

Lyudmila M. Alexeyeva: A tiny, frail woman of 82 years, Alexeyeva has protested Russian repression for more than 40 years — dating back to Leonid Brezhnev’s premiership of the former Soviet Union. She was first reported to Soviet authorities at age 19 for reading banned poetry. Today, she can be found leading protests on street corners and in prominent plazas, most recently on New Year’s Eve, when she was arrested for leading an unauthorized protest. In January, she told the New York Times that Soviet repression was easier to fight than it is in Vladimir Putin’s era: “There were rules then. They were idiotic rules, but there were rules, and if you knew them you could defend yourself.” She has been attacked by pro-Kremlin supporters in recent months, prompting members of the European Parliament to express their concern and award her the body’s 2009 Sakharov human rights prize, named for famed Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Garry Kasparov: Arguably the world’s greatest chess player, Kasparov’s political career has not been nearly as successful. Founder of the United Civil Front and a leader of the loose opposition coalition the “Other Russia,” Kasparov planned to challenge then-President Vladimir Putin’s handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 Russian presidential election. But he was forced to withdraw in the face of a campaign of harassment that he says was directed by the Kremlin. Kasparov, like many other Putin-era Russian dissidents, has proved much more popular in the West than in Russia. And Putin, now a very powerful prime minister, has proved to be an even tougher opponent than Deep Blue.

The article can be read in full on Foreign Policy’s website by clicking here.