2004 Democracy Award


June 9, 2004

On June 9, the National Endowment for Democracy honored leaders of organizations known as the backbone of the democracy movement in Russia and the principal bulwark against the return of tyranny. Many of them are human rights organizations that protect basic freedoms and defend the most vulnerable population groups. Others are associations of independent journalists and organizations that both educate citizens about democracy and preserve the society’s memory of those who perished under communism. Still others are watchdog groups that promote transparency and government accountability; ecological organizations; independent research centers; election monitoring organizations; groups that provide independent information about the war in Chechnya; and many others.

The award recipients and leaders of these such organizations are:

  • Ludmilla Alekseeva, a founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group that survived persecution under communism and has reemerged today, under her leadership, as Russia’s leading human rights organization
  • Arseny Roginsky, the Chairman of the International Memorial Society that protects refugees and victims of political persecution in Chechnya and other zones of armed conflict in Russia, and also commemorates the millions who perished under Stalinism
  • Aleksei Simonov, the President of the Glasnost Defense Foundation, the principal Russian organization that defends freedom of the press, trains journalists to work in war zones and protects their rights
  • Mara Polyakova, the Director of the Independent Council for Legal Expertise that mobilizes the best legal minds in the country to review and analyze legislation affecting basic rights and provides legal assistance in defense of these rights

Read honorees’ biographies.

Remarks at the event were made by:

  • Thomas R. Donahue, Vice Chairman, NED
  • Lorne Craner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State
  • Carl Gershman, President NED

The award presentation was preceded by a roundtable discussion, Prospects for Democracy and Human Rights in Russia.  Those in the discussion included:

  • Award winners Ludmilla Alekseeva and Aleksei Simonov
  • Jackson Diehl
  • John McCain
  • Steve Sestanovich
  • Elena Bonner
  • Michael McFaul
  • James Billington


The Hurford Foundation

Julie Finley

Emmanuel Kampouris
APCO Worldwide
American Federation of Teachers
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US

We also wish to acknowledge the gracious assistance of the following individuals:  James Billington, Mark Palmer and Esther Coopersmith


Russia Activists Outline Challenges to Human Rights, by Annie Bang and Michelle Townsend, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 15, 2004

Putin’s Definition of Democracy?, by Ludmilla Alexeyeva, The Washington Post, June 8, 2004