veterans of the struggle for democracy and human rights
in the former Soviet Union
This is a noble and important initiative - the effort to organize a fund for supporting veterans of the democratic movement in the former Soviet Union— former longtime prisoners of labor camps and prisons--and also for supporting the families of champions of democracy who perished in those camps and prisons. Before the collapse of the Soviet regime support for such people existed with the Solzhenitsyn Fund, but nothing on that scale exists now. And many of these former prisoners, who are now old and often very ill, have really been forgotten by the people who enjoy freedoms achieved by the struggles sacrifices of these very men and women.
I do not believe that history will forget them, however. Their contribution to the collapse of the totalitarian regime arid, as a result, to the end of the Cold War, with its insane arms race, was tremendous. Their names will be in textbooks. But they urgently need support now.
Yuri Fedorov, the organizer of this fund, is the very best person for such a task. I have known him very well for many years. He spent 15 years himself. In the notorious Perm Labor Camp #36 under the so-called special regime, the hardest regime, the one g even to political prisoners. For a short time we were even in the Perm Labor Camp #37 together, both under the strong regime. But we did not meet one another there because we were both isolated from the other prisoners, and very soon he was sent back to camp #36.
I appeal to people able to support The Gratitude Fund to support it generously, before these old veterans--who deserve honor arid gratitude from lovers of democracy and freedom everywhere--die.