15th Annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony & Dissident Human Rights Award Presentation
On June 10th, representatives from 15 embassies, 3 delegations, and 42 ethnic and human rights organizations gathered together with leaders of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) for the 15th annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony & Dissident Human Rights Award Presentation at the Victims of Communism Memorial on Capitol Hill.
Honoring Russian Freedom Fighter Alexei Navalny
This year, we were proud to present our Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, politician, lawyer, and founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, who is currently imprisoned in Russia—after being poisoned with a nerve agent and miraculously surviving—simply for telling the truth about Putin’s authoritarian regime.
Anna Veduta, Vice President of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, accepted the award on Mr. Navalny’s behalf. Ms. Veduta shared the following observations during her remarks:
“Having spent more than a year in a prison camp, sentenced to nine years more in a maximum-security prison, formally facing another fifteen years behind the bars, and having no illusions that his term is anything other than a life term, Alexei Navalny is the freest man in today’s Russia. Because it is impossible to take away the freedom of someone who is free in their mind.
In Alexei’s own words:
‘The iron doors slam shut behind me with a deafening clang, but I feel like a free man. The truth is on our side.’ ”
Ms. Veduta shared that “Putin’s Russia is the successor of Soviet Russia in many ways, but the main one is — it is built on lies. Mendacity and propaganda can be very effective when people don’t have access to the truth. That is why the Russian authorities — both past and present — have worked so fiercely to silence dissidents’ voices.” She explained how Russian independent media outlets and human rights activists are being persecuted in Russia today for conveying the truth about the war in Ukraine to the Russian people, including risking prison terms of up to 15 years.
The brutal crushing of dissent in Russia tells the world all it needs to know about the capacity of totalitarian governments to tolerate even the smallest concessions to freedom. The bravery of Alexei Navalny and many other citizens of Russia tell us the human thirst for freedom will never die.
Participation in Wreath Laying Ceremony
This year, 15 embassies, 3 delegations, and 42 ethnic and human rights organizations participated in the Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony:
- Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
- Embassy of Canada
- Embassy of the Republic of Croatia
- Embassy of the Czech Republic
- Embassy of Estonia
- Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Embassy of Hungary
- Embassy of the Republic of Latvia
- Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
- Embassy of Moldova
- Embassy of the Republic of Poland
- Embassy of Romania
- Embassy of the Slovak Republic
- Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia
- Embassy of Ukraine
- Delegation of the European Union to the United States
- Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States
- Office of Tibet
- And 42 ethnic and human rights organizations