Prague's Forum 2000 honors Anna Politkovskaya
By Tomáš Vršovský
PRAGUE - A group of prominent intellectual leaders attending a conference in Prague held a moment of silence for the slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Monday.
The participants in the Forum 2000, an annual meeting of world renowned intellectuals, politicians, religious leaders and activists organized by former Czech President Václav Havel, did not ignore Saturday's contract murder of Politkovskaya in Moscow. The panel discussion "Human Rights Revisited" opened with French philosopher Andre Glucksman's harsh condemnation of the killing. "People who defend human rights in Russia are lone figures."
Russian economist and politician Grigory Yavlinsky said, "I wanted to speak about the developments in Russia, but after this incident I actually don't need to. We live in an authoritarian and corrupt system." He then added that Russia has entered a new stage in which "political opponents are murdered in the middle of Moscow in broad daylight." At his request the forum participants held a minute of silence to honor Politkovskaya.
Václav Havel welcomed the Forum’s mentioning Politkovskaya during the discussion. "We want friendship with Russia, but that requires openness, otherwise it would be a false friendship. Therefore, we should clearly remind the Russian leadership that there is no longer a Soviet Union; it's impossible to blackmail Georgia, wage war in Chechnya and exploit the Ukraine."
Forum 2000 was founded in 1996 as a joint initiative of Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. Its aim is to identify the key issues facing civilization and to explore ways in which to prevent escalation of conflicts that have religion, culture or ethnicity as their primary components. It wants to provide a platform to discuss these topics openly and to enhance global dialogue. It also intends to promote democracy in non-democratic countries, support civil societies, respect human rights and allow for religious, cultural and ethnic tolerance in young democracies.