"I dedicate this award to my team, the team of the Russian LGBT Network. I admire the courage of these people, of all people who fight for LGBT rights in Russia". Igor Kochetkov
On November 22, the Egor Gaidar annual award ceremony took place in Moscow. The award for the Activity Fostering Development of Civil Society was given to the Executive Director of the Programs of the Russian LGBT Network Igor Kochetkov and the Chairperson of the Committee against Torture Igor Kalyapin. For the first time ever, the award was given to two people.
Yegor Gaidar Award was established by Yegor Gaidar Foundation in 2010, and is annually conferred in the four following nominations: Activity Fostering Development of Civil Society, Outstanding Contribution to Economics, Outstanding Achievement in Historical Research and Outstanding Contribution to the Development of International Humanitarian Ties with Russia. Among the winners of the Yegor Gaidar Annual Award are prominent Russian figures and international representatives. The award for the Activity Fostering Development of Civil Society is the main award of the ceremony. This year, three people were nominated: the Chairperson of the Committee against Torture Igor Kalyapin, member of the Russian LGBT Network Igor Kochetkov and the head of the Public Verdict Foundation Natalya Taubina. For the first time ever, the jury’s votes were equally divided and the Award was given to two people.
In his speech, Igor Kochetkov said, "I dedicate this award to my team, the team of the Russian LGBT Network. I admire the courage of these people, of all people who fight for LGBT rights in Russia".
“On November 9, we commemorated 80 years since the "Chrystal Night”, the beginning of the Holocaust. Remembering that night, they often say “Never again”. However, I am afraid that this “Never again” is already here. It is right here, in our own country. We already have laws, which announce one group of people – lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders – less valuable than others. Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime jails, tortures, and kills people just because of their sexual orientation or religious believes, or just because their lifestyle does not correspond someone’s ideas about “normal”. In such situation, it takes a lot of courage to help those who are in a very bad need. It takes a lot of courage to talk about that and to call things by their proper names. And it takes courage to overcome one’s own prejudices and to join those who oppose evil. I believe that this very ceremony is a sign of that courage”.
The next day, Igor Kochetkov wrote that such a high evaluation of his work is far more important than the Prize itself. “It is not about myself personally. Open gay, LGBT activist in Russia wins the Prize for Fostering Development of Civil Society, for the “active fight for the rights of sexual minorities” as it is formulated officially. It means that our joint efforts, efforts of all LGBT activists and human rights defenders, bring about their results. I was awarded for the fight against homophobia and transphobia! In Russia! The nightmare of all the haters. But it is the reality. We are going in the right direction, dear friends!”