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Irina Flige: Truthful and Complete Information about the Past is Important for Freedom

Source: HRO.org (info), 06/04/12 

· Human rights defenders  · Human rights education  · St. Petersburg & Leningrad region  · Victims of repression 

“All the work on the Memorial archives has the goal of making the testimonies from the past accessible to a wider circle of people so that the history of the state terror of the Soviet period can be documented, known and understood by all humanity” - Irina Flige of the St. Petersburg Memorial Research Centre 



As HRO.org has already reported, St. Petersburg Memorial Research Centre has been awarded the prestigious Freedom of Expression prize. 

“The Memorial Research Centre received this award for creating a remarkable archive that includes letters, diaries, transcripts, photographs, and sound files. Individuals with first-hand experience of Stalin’s terror and the Soviet gulag have donated documentation they had hidden during this brutal period,” Index on Censorship writes on its website. “The Centre is a living tribute to the survivors of Soviet Russia, preserving documentation that many have tried to bury, and continue to conduct their work despite constant threats. In December 2009, a group of men from the Investigative Committee of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office raided Memorial’s offices, confiscating hard drives and CDs containing its entire archive. The attack was condemned by activists and historians across the globe, and eventually all of the material was returned after a battle in local courts.”

Irina Flige, director of the Memorial Research Centre, was presented with the award in London by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, one of Index on Censorship’s original trustees.

Acceptance Speech by Irina Flige at the Award Ceremony

Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I thank you in the name of all Russian researchers, writers, teachers and museum specialists who are working on the tragic topic of the Soviet past.

I am grateful for this opportunity to thank Index on Censorship and all our friends for the honour bestowed on the archives of Memorial St Petersburg on the occasion of Index’s 40th anniversary.

I thank you in the name of the St. Petersburg Memorial Research Centre, which has created these archives and worked with them for more than twenty years. I thank you in the name of the whole Memorial community in Russia and beyond. And I thank you in the name of all Russian researchers, writers, teachers and museum specialists who are working on the tragic topic of the Soviet past and facing obstacles in their day-to-day work that are unknown to their colleagues in other countries.

All the work on the Memorial archives has the goal of making the testimonies from the past accessible to a wider circle of people so that the history of the state terror of the Soviet period can be documented, known and understood by all humanity.

Our projects that have been given special mention here today are also directed towards these goals: these are the project of digitization and publication on the Internet of materials collected by us and two other Memorial organizations - Ryazan and Krasnodar, and also the project Virtual GULAG Museum, implemented by our Centre.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the philanthropic organizations - Ford Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, Siegrid Rausing Foundation, Oak Foundation, Likhachev Foundation, Conrad Adenauer Foundation, and others – for their support of our projects over many years.

It is especially pleasant to receive this award from such a well-respected and authoritative organization as Index on Censorship, an organization known throughout the world as one of the most active in the fight for freedom of information on all continents, an organization the name of which was already well-known in Russia during the days of the dissidents.

An organization at whose roots were people such as the man of letters Michael Scammel and the Soviet dissident Pavel Litvinov. An organization whose work has been supported, and participated in, by such people as Milan Kundera, Vaclav Havel, Umberto Eco, Tom Stoppard and many others.

I understand this Award for Memorial as a recognition of the fact that truthful and exhaustive information about the past is just as essential to freedom as truthful and exhaustive information about the present day, and that the concealment of historical documents, the impediment of access to such documents, the persecution of those who try to make such documents freely accessible (and this still happens sometimes in Russia) are just as unacceptable as the concealment of topical information about human rights violations today.

Thank you for your understanding.”

ĉ
Rights in Russia,
10 Apr 2012, 12:54
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