Prospects for Russia’s Democratic Movement

September 13, 2017
08:30 am - 10:00 am

About the Event

In March 2018, Russia’s presidential elections will almost certainly result in a fourth term for Vladimir Putin. Putin’s third term as president has been marked not only by Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine and the resulting sharp decline in US-Russia relations, but also by an intense crackdown on independent political activity inside Russia. New repressive laws have seriously challenged civil society organizations’ ability to operate and sought to restrict Russia’s independent media and internet freedom. The government has also targeted political opposition figures with legal persecution and violence, most notably with the 2015 assassination of the politician Boris Nemtsov. Nevertheless, a courageous and committed Russian democratic movement has continued to adapt to these difficult circumstances and remains active today. This expert panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities for this democratic movement in the run-up to Russia’s 2018 presidential election and into Putin’s probable fourth term.

The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
First Street Northeast
Room SVC-203
Washington, DC 20515


Vadim Prokhorov, Personal Lawyer, Family of Boris Nemtsov

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice Chairman, Open Russia

Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation

Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia, The National Endowment for Democracy

and moderated by

Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy

About the Speakers

Vadim Prokhorov is a Russian attorney who has represented opposition figures and parties before Russian and international courts and works as a legal expert at the Free Russia Foundation. From 2001 to 2015, he represented the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He has represented the interests of Nemtsov’s daughter Zhanna Nemtsova in the investigation and trial over Nemtsov’s assassination, and has led efforts to establish international oversight over the case. Prokhorov has served on Russia’s Central Election Commission, and is currently a leading figure in the opposition Solidarity movement. He holds degrees in history and law from Moscow State University.

Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for Modern Russia and vice chairman of Open Russia, a Russian pro-democracy movement. He was a longtime colleague and advisor to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and chairs the Nemtsov Foundation. Kara-Murza is a former deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party, and was a candidate for the Russian State Duma. He has testified on Russian affairs before parliaments in Europe and North America, and writes regular commentary for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. He is the author of Reform or Revolution (2011). Kara-Murza has previously worked as a journalist for Russian broadcast and print media, including Ekho Moskvy and Kommersant and is the director of two documentary films, “They Chose Freedom” (on the dissident movement in the USSR) and “Nemtsov” (on the life of Boris Nemtsov). Vladimir Kara-Murza holds an M.A. (Cantab.) in History from Cambridge.

Natalia Arno is President and Founder of the Free Russia Foundation (FRF), a Washington-based NGO founded in 2014 by a group of political activists who had been forced to leave Russia due to political pressure. FRF works to provide expert analysis and raise awareness of important Russian political developments, to advance democratic development in Russia, and to serve as a bridge between the Russian democracy movement and US-based policymakers, experts, journalists, and NGOs. Prior to founding FRF, Natalia worked for the International Republican Institute for ten years, including six years as IRI’s Country Director for Russia.

Miriam Lanskoy is Senior Director of Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she is responsible for NED programs and strategies for the region. She is an expert analyst focusing on political trends, civil society, and democratization. She has testified before Congress, been interviewed on NPR, and appeared on PBS’ Newshour.  In 2010, she published her first book, The Chechen Struggle: Independence Won and Lost. She holds a Ph.D. in International Affairs from Boston University.

Carl Gershman is President of the National Endowment for Democracy, where he presides over the Endowment’s grants programs and has overseen the creation of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program, and the World Movement for Democracy. Mr. Gershman has lectured extensively and written articles and reviews on foreign policy issues for such publications as: Commentary, The New Leader, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Democratization, The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, The Washington Quarterly, and the Journal of Democracy. He earned his B.A. degree from Yale University, Magna Cum Laude in 1965 and an M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1968.

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