Sergei Kovalev

Sergei Adamovich Kovalev (also spelt as Sergey Kovalyov; _ru. Сергей Адамович Ковалёв; b. March 2 1930) is a Russian human rights activist and politician and a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner.

Early career and arrest

Kovalev was born in the town of Seredina-Buda in Ukraine, near Sumy. In 1932, his family moved to Podlipki village near Moscow. In 1954 he graduated from Moscow State University. As a biophysicist, Kovalev authored more than 60 scientific publications. From mid-1950s, he opposed Trofim Lysenko's theories favored by the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In 1969, he founded the first Soviet human rights association, the Initiative Group for the Defense of Human Rights in the USSR, and later became the principal link to the dissident movement in Lithuania. Kovalev actively participated in publication of samizdat periodicals such as Moscow-based "Chronicle of Current Events" and "The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania".

He was arrested on December 8 1974, and tried in Vilnius, charged with "anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" (Article 70 of the RSFSR Penal Code) and served seven years in labor camps in Perm region and Chistopol prison, and later three years in internal exile at Kolyma. Upon his return, he settled in Kalinin (now Tver).

During perestroika

During perestroika initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, Kovalev was allowed to return to Moscow (in 1986). In that period, he continued his activism and participated in the founding of several key humanitarian organizations and initiatives:
* The human rights society Memorial, dedicated to the memory and rehabilitation of victims of political repression in the USSR. Kovalev has served as its co-chairman since 1990.
* The Moscow branch of Amnesty International .
* The International Humanitarian Conference (December 1987)
* Press-club "Glasnost"

In 1989, Andrei Sakharov recommended him as a co-director of the Project Group for defense of Human Rights, later renamed into Russian-American Human Rights Group.

Post-Soviet Russia

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kovalev turned to official politics. In January 1991, he coauthored the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights in Russia and was a major contributor to Article 2 ("Rights and Liberties of Man and Citizen") of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

From 1990 to 1993, he was an elected People's Deputy of the Russian Federation, and a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation. He served as the Chairman of the President's Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Commissioner for the Russian parliament, the State Duma.

From 1993 until 2003 Kovalev was a member of the Russian State Duma. From 1996 to 2003 he was also a member of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and a member of the Assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

In 1993, he co-founded the movement and later, the political party "Choice of Russia" (Выбор России), later renamed "Democratic Choice of Russia" (Демократический выбор России).

Since 1994, Kovalev, then Yeltsin's human rights adviser, has been publicly opposed to Russia's military involvement in Chechnya. From Grozny, he personally witnessed and reported the realities of the First Chechen War. His daily reports via telephone and on TV galvanized Russian public opinion against the war. For his activism, he was removed from his post in the Duma in 1995. [Vadim J. Birstein. "The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science." Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-813-34280-5 ]

Kovalev has been an outspoken critic of authoritarian tendencies in the administrations of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. In 1996, he resigned as head of Yeltsin's presidential human rights commission. In 2002, he organized a public commission to investigate the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings (the Kovalev Commission [ [http://www.eng.terror99.ru/publications/107.htm Terror-99 ] ] ), which was effectively paralyzed after one of its members, Sergei Yushenkov, was assassinated, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2957823.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Yushenkov: A Russian idealist ] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2958997.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Russian MP's death sparks storm ] ] another member, Yuri Shchekochikhin, poisoned with thallium, [ [http://www.eng.terror99.ru/publications/118.htm Terror-99 ] ] [ [http://2006.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2006/82n/n82n-s05.shtml Агент Неизвестен ] ] and its legal counsel and investigator, Mikhail Trepashkin, arrested. [ [http://eng.trepashkin.ru/ The Trepashkin Case ] ] [ [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460132006?open&of=ENG-2U4 Russian Federation: Amnesty International calls for Mikhail Trepashkin to be released pending a full review of his case | Amnesty International ] ]

Kovalev is a recipient of numerous awards and honorary titles. In 2005, he participated in "They Chose Freedom", a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement.

See also

*Politics of Russia

References

External links

* [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR460432002?open&of=ENG-346 Kovalev at Amnesty International]
* [http://eng.terror99.ru/publications/107.htm Putin critic loses post, platform for inquiry]
* [http://www.ned.org/events/demaward/demaward1995.html#Bonner Kovalev is one of recipients of 1995 Democracy Award] at National Endowment for Democracy

* [http://www.hrights.ru/kovalyov.htm Bio] at hrights.ru
* [http://www.hro.org/editions/kovalev_sa/index.php Bio] at hro.org
* [http://old.grani.ru/civil_society/articles/kovalev/ 2001 Interview]
* [http://old.grani.ru/fsb/articles/kovalyov_commission/ 2002 Interview]
* [http://www.svoboda.org/programs/ftf/2004/ftf.121204.asp 2004 Interview]

Works

* [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/225 Putin's War] (2000)

Further reading

Emma Gilligan. "Defending Human Rights in Russia: Sergei Kovalyov, Dissident and Human Rights Commissioner, 1969-96" (BASEES/Curzon Series on Russian & East European Studies) RoutledgeCurzon. 2003. ISBN 0-415-32369-X [http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QlJNt_10xxAC&oi=fnd&pg=RA4-PA2&sig=Dg4Ee81sB31Bu18ZdwCbc6Pavyo&dq=+%22human+rights+in+russia%22&prev=http://scholar.google.com/scholar%3Fq%3D%2B%2522human%2Brights%2Bin%2Brussia%2522%26start%3D30%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN#PPP1,M1 Link to Internet version]


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