On February 24, 2016 the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe joined 15 other delegations to the OSCE to recognize Oleksandra Matviychuk with a Democracy Defender Award. Matviychuk is a Ukrainian civil society leader who has been an active campaigner for democratic reforms in her country. Zhanna Nemtsova, the eldest daughter of slain Russian activist Boris Nemtsov, introduced the awardee at a ceremony held at Sweden Haus in Vienna.
Zhanna Nemtsova spoke about the importance of the role of civil society and rule of law in countries such as Russia and Ukraine, urging the investigation of both the murder of her father as well as those killed in the Euromaidan uprising.
U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OSCE Daniel Baer noted to the participants, “It is fitting that in a week when we commemorate one democratic activist (Boris Nemtsov) slain for his ideals, we honor another who carries forward the mission shared by all those committed to liberty and human dignity everywhere.”
Upon receipt of the award Matviychuk reflected on the second anniversary of the Maidan and Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, “The people of Ukraine rose to defend their state with a real consciousness, and we paid a rather high price for it… we must continue fighting for human dignity.”
Supporting civil society and human rights defenders is a priority of the United States foreign policy. The U.S. Mission was proud to stand with so many partners from across the OSCE to recognize the importance of continued dedication to supporting democratic values and internationally recognized human rights principles.