Staunton, September 8 – In the worst traditions of the Soviet past, Russian media outlets at the end of last week put out what they said was an interview with Lyudmila Alexeyeva showing that the longtime head of the Moscow Helsinki Group supports Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukraine.
But that was a “falshivka,” a whole cloth invention that does not reflect her views, and Alexeyeva issued a statement expressing her outrage and threatening to sue any media outlet that does not print a retraction for damage to her reputation and for libel. Her statement follows below:
“I am outraged by the fact that an interview approving the Russian annexation of Crimea has been ascribed to me. Repeatedly I have declared and I declare again that I am convinced that the seizure of Crimea shamed my country. This is a dishonorable action in relation to fraternal Ukraine which is living through difficult times,” Alexeyeva said.
“A good neighbor must help his neighbor survive the difficulties and not use them to settle accounts. Thus must act both individuals and governments. In the contemporary world, it is shameful and stupid to be someone who seizes something belonging to others. It is necessary to negotiate, not fight.”
“No less than before Ukraine, we are guilty before the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea. They have every reason not to want to be part of Russia which is the legal successor of the USSR where they in 1944 at Stalin’s order suffered the greatest tragedy – their complete exile from Crimea to the Eastern republics of the USSR.”
“I am a citizen of Russia,” Alexeyeva continued, “and I do not avoid responsibility for the behavior of my country both in relation to its neighbors and to its own citizens. I [therefore] demand that all publications which printed the report, even if they cite other sources, in which I supposedly support ‘Crimea is Ours’ to remove this information and print my declaration.”
“I warn them,” the 87-year-old activist concluded, “those who do not fulfill my demand, I will take them to court for harm to my reputation and for libel.”