An Open Letter to the Heads of State and GovernmentAttending the May 9th Commemoration in Moscow

Posted in Other | 08-May-05

Russian policewomen walk past a World War II era Russian tank parked in a street near Red Square on the eve of a military parade in Moscow May 8, 2005.

As citizens of the Euro-Atlantic community of democracies, we wish to express our deep concern about the forthcoming gathering of world leaders and statesmen in Moscow on May 9, to participate in a Russian government-sponsored commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the defeat of fascism in Europe. While the anniversary itself is without question a worthy occasion for celebrating one of the greatest victories of mankind over tyranny, we believe the venue and hosting of this event are altogether unsuited to the fundamental principles for which that historic victory in the Second World War was achieved.

Six decades after the defeat of fascist despotism in Europe, Russia's own civil liberties, political freedoms, rule of law, and democratic institutions are extremely weak and fragile, to the extent that they exist at all. Indeed, it is highly ironic that one of Europe’s least democratic and most repressive regimes today will be hosting an assembly of global leaders of free countries to celebrate the continent’s liberation. At the very moment when Moscow’s own commitment to the principles of democracy and justice is in serious decline, in the wake of selective persecution of citizens who have sought to liberalize that country’s political and economic systems, it seems to us to be a mockery of the occasion to gather there in honour of the 20th century’s climactic sacrifice for Europe’s freedom.

Popularly elected officials worldwide have condemned the Russian leadership’s disregard for basic civil liberties and an independent judiciary. The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly recently adopted a resolution which criticized Russia’s leaders for their continued actions designed to, “weaken an outspoken political opponent, to intimidate other wealthy individuals and to regain control of strategic economic assets”. Members of the United States Congress have called repeatedly, both individually and collectively, for the adoption of free and fair political and judicial systems in Russia. Indeed, Russia’s retreat from freedom and democracy in the post-Soviet era has never seemed more rapid or broad scale than at this very moment.

Therefore, in view of the inappropriate setting for a celebration of Europe’s liberation and freedom in 1945, we urge senior representatives of the United States and Europe who are going to Moscow to attend the May 9 event, to raise with the Russian leadership our serious concerns about the erosion of the principles of democracy and justice in Russia today. This will be a gesture of solidarity with the people of Russia who still await freedom from state-centred power and repression. History teaches that there must be no compromise on the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

  • Richard Allen, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, United States
  • Fredo Arias-King, founding Editor, Demokratizatsiya, Mexico
  • Dr. Ronald Asmus, German Marshall Fund, United States
  • Rafael Bardaji, Strategic Studies Group (GEES), Spain
  • Ellen Bork, Project on the New American Century, United States
  • Malcolm Bruce, Member of the UK Parliament and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, United Kingdom
  • Mark Brzezinski, former Director for Russia/Eurasia, National Security Council Staff, United States
  • Janusz Bugajski, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), United States
  • Lubos Dobrovsky, former Czech Minister of Defense and former Ambassador to Russia, Czech Republic
  • Daniel Hamilton, Director, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University
  • His Excellency Vaclav Havel, Former President, Czech Republic
  • Milan Horacek, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
  • Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, President, Project on Transitional Democracies, United States
  • Vlad Korbets, Youth Movement for a Democratic European Belarus ("Zubr"), Belarus
  • Irina Krasovskaya, President, We Remember Foundation, Belarus
  • Valdis Pavlovskis, Director, Baltic American Freedom League, United States
  • The Honorable Tom Lantos, Member of Congress, United States
  • Randy Scheunemann, Project for a New American Century, United States
  • Radek Sikorski, New Atlantic Initiative, Poland
  • Vlad Spanu, Executive Director, Moldova Foundation, Moldova
  • Petr Vancura, Chairman, Association for Freedom and Democracy, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Ari Vatanen, Member of the European Parliament, France
  • Sasha Vondra, former Deputy Foreign Minister, Czech Republic