Vera Kichanova’s Remarks at the 2013 Democracy Award

I am very pleased and thankful for this award. I am very pleased to be here. In Russia last year, we had massive protests. There were many thousands of people who were going out in the streets, many of them for the first time, to show that they want the political system to be more liberal, to be more democratic. They all hoped that the changes would come quickly. But actually after that, we had a crackdown on Russian civil society and so many of those people are discouraged. But while they are discouraged, it doesn’t mean that they are giving up because we are continuing our fight, our struggle. We have seen that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Russia who demand the democratic changes, who want Russia to be a free country, who want free elections, who want free media, who want to change the country for the best and who want to build a free society.

I am very glad and very pleased that there are people from other countries who are also democracy fighters, who keep an eye on what we are doing in Russia. And I am very thankful to the National Endowment for Democracy for the opportunity to see those people here: the brilliant activists who are fighting for the same ideals in their own countries. This year, the Democracy Award is being given to young activists and, in my mind, youth play a special role in the democratic movement. In Russia, they play a special role because the youth now are global-minded and they are traveling all over the world. They are connected with people of their generation from other countries and they know that they want to live in a modern country. Now we have finally figured out that there is no modernization without democratization and without human rights. I am sure that this award is not my award. It is the award of the generation of young Russians who keep fighting, who keep protesting, who keep going out in the streets and participating in some local activities and local elections.

I would like to dedicate this award to the ones who are now in jail in Russia for their political views and political activism, especially those 27 people who are on trial in the Bolotnaya case. I am very thankful to the National Endowment for Democracy. I am very thankful to my comrades from the Libertarian Party of Russia because my victory in the local elections was not my victory. It was the victory of our whole team. When you live in a society in a country that is not free, you cannot do anything alone. You must work in a team. You must build some connections with other activists. Now we are ready for a long fight. We know to go keep fighting. Thank you.