Debate on the significance of ties with Russian civil society at the Embassy of Lithuania in Washington
The Embassy of Lithuania in Washington hosted a debate on strengthening of ties between Western democracies and Russian civil society on 7 November 2017.
The debate heard contributions from Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, Signatory to the Act of Independence Emanuelis Zingeris, Vice Chairman of the NGO Open Russia Vladimir Kara-Murza, advisers to the U.S. Congress, officials of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ambassadors, other foreign diplomats, activists of Russian civil society, U.S. experts from the Brookings Institution, Hudson Institute, Carnegie Center, International Republican Institute, Freedom House, and the Voice of America.
The participants underlined the critical importance of a dialogue and persistent strengthening of ties with Russian civil society for both Western and Russian societies.
Professor Landsbergis warned that attempts to revitalise the Russia which recognised only power and was hostile towards its neighbours was a threat to Russia as well as the world. “The first victims of such a policy are the people of Russia,” Mr Landsbergis said.
The first Head of State of Independent Lithuania noted that the value-based unity of the transatlantic community and unanimous support by Western countries to Russia’s civil society were of particular importance in the face of threats from Russia.
Vladimir Kara-Murza pointed out that stereotypical statements about democracy being not what Russia needed were totally wrong. “Whenever there was a chance to choose, Russian people opted for democracy – be it the elections of November 1917 to the Constituent Assembly of Russia or the Russian Presidential election of June 1991, or the recent municipal elections.”
“We see growing awareness and engagement not only in Moscow or Petersburg but in other Russian cities as well, which is particularly true of young people. There are many people in Russia who want to live a dignified life in democratic society with the rule of law and freedoms respected,” Mr Kara-Murza said.
The majority of those who took the floor mentioned Lithuania as the example of a country that differentiated between the Kremlin’s politics and the people of Russia and helped the activists of Russian civil society who had been made to leave their Homeland for various reasons.
On 20 December, 2016 Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius signed a book of condolences opened at the Embassy of the Russian Federation for the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Mr Andrei Karlov who died tragically in Ankara.