FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Vanessa Oblinger
May 12, 2015
202-997-1289 or [email protected]
CUBAN AND RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TO RECEIVE 2015 TRUMAN-REAGAN MEDAL OF FREEDOM
Recipients Urge World to Remember Victims of Communist Regimes
Washington, D.C. — The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation today announced the recipients of the 2015 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom: Cuban human rights activist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández and Russian journalist and human rights activist Alexandr Podrabinek. The awards will be presented on June 11 and 12th at ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
“It is our honor and privilege to present this award to Guillermo Fariñas Hernández and Alexandr Podrabinek,” said Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. “These two men come from different places, but share a tireless devotion to ensuring that future generations will live in a world free from the horrors of communism. With this award, we honor their courage and their continued commitment to the fight for basic human rights.”
“I consider this recognition not a personal one but an award to all Cuban citizens that have suffered the Castro dictatorship for the past 56 years. Thanks for not forgetting the thousands of Cubans that have been executed, jailed, tortured and drowned in the ocean trying to escape communism,” said Guillermo Fariñas Hernández.
“I am honored to receive this award, named for two courageous fighters against communist domination of the world. The Soviet Union may have collapsed, representing the failure of the global communist quest, but the Russian people and many others around the world sill live under repression today. I will accept this award as a reminder that the struggle against tyranny, under any name, must never stop,” said Alexandr Podrabinek.
About Guillermo Fariñas Hernández. Throughout his life, Fariñas has fought courageously and selflessly for the right to freedom of information and against government repression in Castro’s Cuba. A psychologist, journalist and political dissident, Fariñas captured international attention when he went on more than 20 hunger strikes in the 11 years he was held prisoner by the Cuban government. His actions helped expose the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Castro regime. He is currently General Coordinator of the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum (FATU), a group of political activists committed to nonviolence, and was awarded the Sakharov Peace Prize by the European Union in 2010. Fariñas has been a vocal opponent of President Obama’s recent “thaw” in relations with Cuba, saying that the political and humanitarian situation is not likely to improve in light of the new deal.
About Alexandr Podrabinek. During his studies to become a doctor in the former Soviet Union, Alexandr Podrabinek became acquainted with the Soviet system’s tyrannical use of psychiatry to repress its own people. Alarmed at what he saw, Podrabinek investigated further, his dissident activities eventually causing the authorities to dismiss him from medical training. In 1977, he published his observations in the groundbreaking book Punitive Medicine, which led to his arrest the following year and eventually a sentence of five years’ exile in Siberia. Since then, Podrabinek has written and edited for several dissident publications and published Alexander Litvinenko’s landmark book Blowing Up Russia. Podrabinek has endured multiple arrests and imprisonment in his struggle against repressive Russian governments, from the Soviet system of the past to Vladimir Putin today.
About the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. The Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom is awarded each year by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to those individuals and institutions that have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny. Previous recipients of the award include: Pope John Paul II, Vaclav Havel, Elena Bonner, Lech Walesa, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Rep. Tom Lantos, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and other champions of liberty.
For press inquiries or to schedule an interview with Marion Smith, please contact Vanessa Oblinger at [email protected] or 202-997-1289.