The Moscow-based human rights organization Memorial has received an award from the United Nations in recognition of its work for refugees, according to a May 3 report on the website Grani.ru. In expressing her and her colleagues’ gratitude for the award, Svetlana Gannushkina of Memorial told the website that “the most important thing is that this forces the Russian authorities to look more positively on the activities of our non-government organizations.”
The US$100,000 award from the UN amounts to less than five dollars for each of the 21,300 refugees who received help from Memorial last year. On the other hand, it represents less than one percent of the budget of the UN commission on human rights, which recently voted down a resolution on Chechnya.
Memorial has remained tenaciously independent of the Russian government – in sharp contrast to the United Nations itself, which of course is a cartel of governments and which usually refrains from offending its most powerful members. In terms of genuine credibility it is not Memorial that needs the embrace of the UN, but vice versa.