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Release: Immediate

Editor's note: Human rights activist Valentin Gefter will be available to meet with members of the media at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the Old Public Library, 307 E. College Street. Gefter will be accompanied by an interpreter.

Valentin Gefter, prominent Russian human rights advocate, lectures at UI Oct. 12-13

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Valentin Gefter, renown for his dogged persistence in negotiating the freedom for Russian dissidents and advancing human rights in his native country, will present two lectures at the University of Iowa Monday, Oct. 12 and Tuesday, Oct. 13 on the UI campus.

Gefter will present "Human Rights in Contemporary Russia," at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 at Room 225 of the Boyd Law Building; he will present a second lecture, "Human Rights Violations in the CIS: Legacy of the Soviet Heritage," at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the same location. Both lectures are free and are open to the public.

Gefter is the executive director of the Human Rights Institute in Moscow and director of the Political Repression Program Unit of the Memorial Human Rights Center (PRPU). PRPU is the leading human rights organization in the Russian Federation and has been led by Gefter since 1996.

The PRPU offers assistance to people who have been arrested for political reasons in the former Russian republics of Georgia, Moldova, the Central Asian republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and Russia. The PRPU has freed or bettered the lives of dissidents in these countries.

"The transition to a democratic regime (from a government rule) is not an easy one. There are important issues to be discussed as Russia moves toward democracy. Gefter leads two human rights organizations in the former Soviet Union. He's a prominent actor in that area," says Steve Hoch, director of the UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES).

Human rights issues in Russia vanished with the collapse of the former Soviet Union and human rights problems continue to exist and civil wars continue in Armenia, Chechnya and Azerbaijan where ethnic groups suppress smaller numbers of ethnic groups, Hoch says.

The lectures are co-sponsored by CREEES, the International Programs department and the International Comparative Law program as part of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, a year-long UI commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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