Silencing Voices of Russian Opposition

March 15, 2016 - 9:00 am

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW
Washington, DC

Silencing Voices of Russian Opposition

A conversation with:
Marina Litvinenko
Widow of Alexander Litvinenko and Co-Founder
Litvinenko Justice Foundation

Alex Goldfarb
Activist and Co-Founder
Litvinenko Justice Foundation

Vladimir Kara-Murza
Coordinator and Activist
Open Russia

Welcome remarks by:
Damon Wilson
Executive Vice President
Atlantic Council

Moderated by:
David Kramer
Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy
The McCain Institute for International Leadership

Nearly a decade ago, Alexander Litvinenko, former officer in the Russian Federal Security Bureau, was murdered in London. The cause of death, as uncovered by investigators, was poisoning by polonium, a rare radioactive substance. The investigative report on the case published in January 2016 concluded that Litvinenko's murder was "probably" approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In May 2015, political opposition leader and journalist, Vladimir Kara-Murza, mysteriously fell ill in Moscow. Once again, poisoning was suspected. Kara-Murza survived the attack on his life, but his case, as well as Litvinenko’s and many others, has become emblematic of the increasingly repressive and dangerous situation facing Russian opposition activists.  Marina Litvinenko, Alexander Litvinenko’s widow who has fought for justice in her husband’s case, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, will discuss the current situation for the opposition in Russian and how the West should respond.  

We hope you can join us for this important and timely discussion.

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Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 

VISITING THE COUNCIL: Metro and parking info


Marina Litvinenko is the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, who died from polonium poisoning in November 2006. After her husband’s death, Ms. Litvinenko embarked on a campaign for a full investigation, and with Boris Berezovsky and Alex Goldfarb, established the Litvinenko Justice Foundation to assist her quest for justice. After a seven-year legal battle, the government of the United Kingdom established a public inquiry into Mr. Litvinenko’s death in 2014 with substantive hearings beginning in January 2015. These hearings led to Sir Robert Owen’s report, which concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” approved of Mr. Litvinenko’s murder.

Alex Goldfarb is an activist and Cofounder of the Litvinenko Justice Foundation. He is also a longtime friend of Alexander Litvinenko, whom he met in Lefortovo prison while directing a tuberculosis project aimed at combatting the disease in prisons and funded by George Soros. After Mr. Litvinenko was poisoned, Dr. Goldfarb became his unofficial spokesman and read out his deathbed statement accusing Putin of ordering the poisoning. In 2014, he wrote Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB with Marina Litvinenko. Dr. Goldfarb originally studied biochemistry in the Soviet Union and, after emigrating in 1975, received a PhD from the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He then became involved with human rights work, translating for Andrei Sakharov, serving as the Director of Operations at Soros’ International Science Foundation (1992-1995), and managing Soros’ Russian Internet Project (1994). In 2001, Dr. Goldfarb was appointed the Executive Director of the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, founded by Boris Berezovsky.

Vladimir Kara-Murza is the Coordinator of Open Russia, a platform for civil society and pro-democracy activists launched in 2014 by Mikhail Khorodovsky. He is also the Deputy Leader of the People’s Freedom Party, a Russian liberal democratic political party. Previously, he served as an adviser to State Duma opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (2000-2003), and as Washington Bureau Chief for RTVi television (2004-2012). He has published numerous opinion pieces in outlets such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times. He is also the author of Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma (Moscow 2011).  Mr. Kara-Murza holds an MA in history from the University of Cambridge.

Damon Wilson is Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council. From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Wilson served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council. He managed interagency policy on NATO, the European Union, Georgia, Ukraine, the Balkans, Eurasian energy security, and Turkey, and planned numerous Presidential visits to Europe, including US-European Union and NATO summits. Mr. Wilson has also served at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq as the Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff; at the National Security Council as the Director for Central, Eastern, and Northern European affairs; and as Deputy Director in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. Prior to serving in Brussels, Mr. Wilson worked in the US Department of State in various positions and served in Rwanda with Save the Children. He is a graduate of Duke University and completed his graduate studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. Mr. Wilson also worked with the Unaccompanied Children in Exile refugee program in Croatia and Turkey.

David Kramer is the Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy at The McCain Institute for International Leadership. He previously served as the President of Freedom House and Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, as well as held several positions at the US Department of State, including Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, and Senior Adviser to the Undersecretary for Global Affairs. Mr. Kramer has also been an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, and is a member of the board of directors of the Halifax International Security Forum. He was also Executive Director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in Washington. Mr. Kramer received his MA in Soviet studies from Harvard University and his BA in Soviet studies and political science from Tufts University.