Saturday, November 12, 2022

World’s Dissidents Unite to Fight Dictatorships -- including Those in Russia and Belarus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 10 – For the past four days, 180 dissidents from 40 dictatorships around the world have met outside of Vilnius at a World Liberty Congress. Most were from Africa and Asia, but Russian and Belarusian dissidents were there as well, committed to joining forces against the world’s dictatorships just as the world’s dictatorships have done against them.

            Almost all of those at the meeting have been jailed by the regimes in their homelands. Most are now in exile. And many are being sought by dictatorial regimes via Interpol and other means. Some of those at the meeting could not give their own names lest they put themselves at risk (

            According to Uriel Epshtein of the Renew Democracy Initiative, one of the organizers of the meeting, Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov joined dissidents from Venezuela and Iran to take this step, convinced that if dissidents cooperate internationally, they will be better able to defend themselves and work against dictatorships in their homelands.

            (Epshtein himself is a dissident once removed as it were. He grew up in New York in the family of Soviet dissidents who had been friendly with Natan Sharansky and is now committed to promoting the rights of such people around the world.)

            Irina Khalip, a Belarusian journalist who reported on this meeting for Novaya Gazeta. Evropa said that she “has been at many conferences … but for the first time at this one felt that almost all the 200 people attended whose lives have been harmed by dictatorships had assembled not simply to share opinions and details of their own biographies.”

            These people in contrast, she continued, “really want to destroy the ugly regimes which threaten their continents and the entire world and are prepared to support one another regardless of their location. How this will work practically and technically remains to be seen. But hope lives as long as there are people who aren’t indifferent. I believe they are the majority.”

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