Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Have a Dream for the Russian People

It's been over two months since I've published on this blog. Not because I don't have something to say, but because I've allowed the fear of those who love me to keep me from publishing what I've written.

But I'm sitting her tonight with tears streaming down my face - literally heartbroken for a nation of people that live in my heart. I'm encouraged by a number of quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. as the 50th anniversary of his "I have a Dream" speech has recently passed. I wish I could be so eloquent as to write such a memorable, touching, moving and eloquent speech. Instead, I'll quote him throughout this blog.

King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

And so, I'm breaking my silence tonight.

I have a dream that the voice of the people of Russia will be heard.

Many of my friends, near and dear to my heart, will go to the polls in Russia on Sunday and will cast their vote for a man who stands for freedom - Alexei Navalny for Moscow Mayor.

A little background:

Best know for his political activism and blogging, Navalny is a well-educated lawyer who belongs to the Russian Opposition Coordination Council and the Fund for Fighting Corruption. He was named "Person of the Year 2009" by Russian business newspaper Vedomosti. In 2011, the BBC described Navalny as "arguably the only major opposition figure to emerge in Russia in the past five years." In 2012, he was the only Russian to make Time magazine's 2012 list of the world's 100 most influential people. But here's the "title" that sums it up. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal described Navalny as "the man Vladimir Putin fears most."

What happens to people that Vladimir Putin fears? I have one name for you - Sergei Magnitsky. If you have followed our adoption story or adoption in general, this should ring a bell. It was the Magnitsky Act signed by President Obama that led to Putin shutting down American adoptions. The Cliff Notes version is this:

Magnistky was a Russian lawyer, accountant and auditor who alleged there had been a large-scale theft from the Russian state sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials. He was therefore arrested and thrown in prison where he died 7 days prior to being released without trial. Because of the believed torture and foul-play involved in his death, America passed human rights sanctions against the Russian Government officials involved. Those sanctions are known as the Magnistky Act.

It should come as no surprise then, that Navalny was accused by the Russian Government in three instances of embezzlement and fraud, or that he was found guilty of a crime that my Russian friends say "there is no way he could have committed." He is a political prisoner.

And now, in a political move to "save face" with the civilized world and keep the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the Russian Government has set Navalny free for two months to allow him to participate in the elections. However, their true purpose in this is to claim their "democracy" and show those still under the trance of the government-run media that Navalny is worth nothing and opposition can not win. All of my Russian friends tell me the results will be falsified and we can know that the results are not true.

Another King quote. "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Unfortunately, there are millions of Russians and Americans that fall under that label! Americans are that way because they choose to be. Many Russians are that way because they lived through the Soviet era, know that it is better now than it was, and they aren't willing too "shake the boat" even though better isn't good enough. And there's the fact that the only media the poor and rural get is government-run propaganda.

King said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

There is no yard stick to measure Navalny. He has stood up for a nation of people who want and deserve better. They want and deserve true democracy, not the dictatored democracy they currently have. Yes, I made that word up.

I commend you Navalny.

As for me. Our adoption is completed. Our daughter is home with us where she belongs. I could take the safe route and stop talking and stop caring about this, but these people are my friends! King said, "In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." I will not be silent and stand by and just watch as my friends go through this trying time.

I speak up for my friends - those I've met and had meals with, those I've spoken with via Skype or Facebook, and those who simply have followed our adoption story and supported us and the tens of thousands of Russian orphans. For my Russian friends who want freedom, I leave you with this quote from Dr. King:

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

If you are an American, or live in another truly democratic country, I beg of you. Don't take your freedom for granted. Vote. Let your voice be heard. For if you don't, we might end up in just the situation my friends are in!