MOSCOW, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 21: Human rights activist and chairman of non-profit charitable organization Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina (centre) poses for a photo with young students during the opening of the school for Syrian refugees' children organized by non-profit charitable organization Civic Assistance Committee in the city of Losino-Petrovsky in Moscow region on November 21, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Kristina Kormilicyna/Kommersant via Getty Images)Kristina Kormilicyna—Kommersant via Getty Images
- AffiliationCitizens Assistance Committee
In Putin’s Russia, fighting for human rights isn’t the safest career path. And yet Gannushkina, a 75-year-old mathematician, soldiers on. Her Civic Assistance Committee has helped over 50,000 people, mainly migrants and refugees, navigate Russia’s byzantine legal system. Some of her successes: Pushing to amend refugee laws to grant citizenship to millions, and lobbying for the rights of refugee children to attend Russian schools. All this, despite her organization being labeled a “foreign agent” by the Russian government.