Founded in 2005, the Freedom Knight Award is presented by the Warsaw-based Kazimira Pulaska Foundation, and is awarded annually during the Warsaw Security Forum. The award is given to “outstanding personalities who promote the values represented by General Kazimir Pulaski: freedom, justice and democracy”. In 2016, it was received by Ilves and the Russian opposition Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
“We are here to pay tribute to Alexei Navalny, a man who has been persecuted, tried, beaten, poisoned and imprisoned for opposing a banditical autocracy that is on the way to classical totalitarian rule. His crime? The fact that he peacefully exercised his fundamental human right to freedom of expression to challenge the regime, which includes combined strikers, violence and murder, “Ilves said.
He recalled that Navalny’s story was not new and had been repeated over and over in the decade before the fall of communism, as the then “true Mordor” USSR persecuted Joseph Brodsky, Nathan Sharansky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov and hundreds of others. “However, there is a difference. When I was a young research analyst and later director of Radio Free Europe / Radio Freedom Estonia, we in the West at least had the moral clarity to confront the bandits to talk about these issues with our governments, our parliaments, all possible in international forums, “Ilves said.
“Paradoxically, the Communists were at least ideologically anti-capitalist in helping to maintain this moral clarity. Commissioners and members of the Politburo could hardly buy villas on the Riviera, ski castles in St. Moritz, apartments in the US President’s skyscraper, or moor their 100-meter yachts in Piraeus. from totalitarianism was seen as bribery or espionage, threatened with severe criminal punishment and social shame. “
“Today, the Liberal Democratic West has abandoned its former clarity. We have become partners in the crime by collaborating with enemies of freedom, our Enlightenment law and human rights.
“In my brief glorification of Alexei Navalny, I will therefore not emphasize his enormous contribution to exposing the stench of corruption in Russia. It only gives us a sense of complacency and a completely false sense of moral superiority.
“This smell vibrates from our own corrupt politicians and political parties, from our naive and greedy governments and even the most prestigious, centuries-old universities. It vibrates from companies that value profit above justice, truth and freedom. It vibrates from bankers, lawyers and accountants who launder money and reputation. “
“It is this corruption, our corruption, that helps, supports, reinforces and really feeds the murderous looting of the Kremlin’s burgers and their servants, as well as other odiosist regimes around the world.”
Ilves recalled that about fifteen years ago, he coined the term “segregation” when former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder took over the position of head of the shareholders’ committee in a consortium dominated by the Russian company Gazprom.
“I was an anonymous author until my friend Edward Lucas discovered it in The Economist after I left office, when it no longer matter who created this rather useful neologism.” The term refers to Russia, the country that uses bribery most effectively today.
“It does not mean that others [režīmi] are innocent. From China to Azerbaijan, from the Philippines to the Democratic Republic of Congo, dirty money pushed from the weak and powerless is muddy our political processes and corrupting our system. “
“Whether it is MEPs who justify human rights abuses in the Caucasus, or a leading British university that receives money from the Chinese Communist Party on the condition that it does not publish unsightly academic research in its mainstream journal – the West is riddled with corruption throughout.”
“Worse, we can’t even talk about it openly for fear of bankruptcy. The great author of Putin’s people, Catherine Beltone, is facing a devastating personal lawsuit brought by the regime’s people. The aim is not only to destroy him, but to deter anyone else who would dare to investigate the link between intelligence, business, organized crime and state power that has created and sustains Russia’s ruling elite. “
“Sometimes it’s not money. Sometimes it’s greed for power. Many of you will remember how the European People’s Party (EPP), just to maintain greater representation in the European Parliament, did not exclude a party that is fundamentally hostile to the values proclaimed by the ERC. To list all corruption manifestations in the West should be not just hours, but days, weeks and years. Ladies and gentlemen, we do not have time to admire this problem. We need to start fixing it. “
“Alexei Navalny was tried for the funniest of the fabricated accusations of failing to appear for a suspended sentence while he recovered from poisoning with Novichok by the same regime that accused him. an infamous and grotesquely flashy castle reminiscent of all the clichés of the young rich that characterize monarchs as willing and deliberate despots from Trump to Yanukovych, who, although not shy about their flashyness, are still afraid of the anger of a poor society; “We in the West are not afraid of shame. We are just taking the money.”
In one of his most recent books, Property and Freedom, the great deceased historian Richard Pappa, who specialized in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, explains why not only Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats but all authoritarian regimes should keep their money in the West. Russia, where the rule of law existed only from February to November 1917. “
“Where there is no rule of law where a landlord can steal or take away another’s property, his main fear is that Kant’s categorical imperative could apply to him as well – that someone will do to him what he has done to become rich himself. So despot the only salvation is to send your money to a place where the rule of law prevails – be it London or Dubai, New York or Tallinn – wherever the “Rechtstaat” (rule of law) means that people earn their wealth by work, not by stealing or pumping out from land owned by the population, which is simply another form of indirect theft. “
“This rule of law has created our prosperity. We know that the state cannot illegally take away our property. But it also allows authoritarian regimes to preserve stolen wealth and persecute people like Alexei Navalny and countless others. So if we really care about freedom, it’s time. time to change our laws The British law on orphan wealth, which is unfortunately not widely or strictly enforced, needs to be copied and strictly enforced in our rule-based West. Semyon Mogilevich’s henchmen to buy apartments in the Trump Tower. ”
“We need to introduce much stricter visa rules and controls to prevent GRU agents coming to kill our people in Europe. We also need to extend the visa ban to the Heads of State and Government. Instead of allowing mass murderers to roam freely, we need to punish those in Europe. officials like former Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindeleger, who intervened in the border police to release Mikhail Golovatov, wanted by Interpol, who was convicted in absentia of murdering 13 Lithuanians, just to please the Russian government. “
“As I said, corruption is widespread. Our own schrenerification, our François Fillon and Karin Kneiss, our Liponen and others who leave the government to get paid and work in so-called ‘independent’ energy companies owned by kleptocratic regimes. To paraphrase Lenin , they are buying a rope that authoritarian regimes will use to hang us. Us, not them. “
“This should be another important reason to pay tribute to Alexei Navalny’s courage. dollars fall into the pockets of our leaders, banks, universities, film studios, political parties and lobbyists from the enemies of our open society. “