Staunton, May 19 – Valeriya Novodvorskaya and Galina Starovoitova, the symbols of Russian liberalism after the death of Academician Andrey Sakharov, would have been 65 and 69 this week were they still alive. But tragically, Yevgeny Ikhlov writes, the two who shared a birthday passed from the scene when it became “completely clear that their mission had failed.”
Starovoitova was killed when Russian political life had been transformed into something horrific, the Moscow commentator say, and Novodvorskaya died when “free and sovereign Russia had become ever more fascist and aggressive. They thus should be remembered not only for what they did but for what their deaths mean (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5559FF3621941).
Despite all their differences, the two began their political careers at almost exactly the same time. In February 1988, Starovoitova, a Moscow ethnographer, declared her support for the Armenians of Karabakh and became “a heroine of the Armenian people” much in the same way that General Grigorenko had become a hero of the Crimean Tatars.
Less than three months later, Novodvorskaya, a Soviet dissident, pushed Sergey Grigoryants to create a poly-ideological opposition party, the Democratic Union, which, as Ikhlov points out, was “to become the incubator of a multi-party Russian democracy. Not surprisingly, the powers that be were not happy with either of them.
Ikhlov concludes that Starovoitova and Novodvorskaya “symbolized the two poles of Russian liberalism and Russian Westernism.” Indeed, “after the death of Academician Sakharov, it was precisely they who carried forward the two banners of democratic intellectual militance. And they fell, without laying down their arms. Each in her own battle.”