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The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is excited to announce the launch of a new podcast mini-series, “Reclaim Democracy: Stories from the Oslo Freedom Forum,” created in partnership with Foreign Policy.

Each year, HRF brings together human rights activists and dissidents at the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) to help raise their voices and expose threats to democracy.

This June, leaders from around the world convened in Oslo to share their stories. Our new podcast mini-series, hosted by HRF’s Casey Michel, director of the Combating Kleptocracy program, features the important stories of five participants:

Anastasia Shevchenko

Anastasia Shevchenko is a Russian politician and activist who served as a coordinator for the Open Russia Movement in Rostov. In 2019, she was detained and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, making her the first person in Russia sentenced under the harsh “undesirable organizations” laws. As a mother of three, Shevchenko was barred from seeing her children while in prison. Tragically, during her imprisonment, her daughter Alina was hospitalized and passed away, highlighting the Russian regime’s brutal treatment of dissidents and its use of family separation to silence opposition. Due to significant social pressure, Shevchenko was eventually released and left Russia. Today, she uses her platform to advocate for a free and open Russia.

Sebastien Lai

Sebastien Lai is leading the international campaign to free his father, Jimmy Lai, a freedom of speech champion, media entrepreneur, and owner of the now-shuttered newspaper Apple Daily. He is currently imprisoned in Hong Kong on trumped-up charges of “conspiring to print seditious publications to incite hatred against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments” and “colluding with foreign forces” under Beijing’s draconian National Security Law. At the age of 76, Jimmy is Hong Kong’s oldest political prisoner.

Arthur Holland Michel

Arthur Holland Michel is a Peruvian-born journalist and researcher whose writing on emerging technologies has appeared in The Atlantic, The Economist, and Wired, among other outlets. He was a founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College and currently serves as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council. His book on advanced surveillance technology, “Eyes in the Sky,” was published in 2019.

Nadia Hernández

Nadia Hernández is a Venezuelan artist and HRF Art in Protest resident artist. En todo tiempo (“At all times”) is a sound-based art installation that unites voices from the Venezuelan community in Miami, Fla., inviting participants to recite, sing, and express lyrical phrases from a historical and evolving archive of Venezuelan protest songs.

Carlos Vives

Carlos Vives is a multiple Grammy-winning singer, composer, and author from Colombia and founder of the Tras la Perla de la América Foundation. Vives’s art is influenced by Latin America’s Indigenous and Afro-descendant cultures. He is best known for the popularization of traditional music styles from the region


Episode one is now available on all major podcast platforms. Hear how Anastasia Shevchenko, a prisoner of conscience, paid a terrible price when advocating for change in Russia and the lessons we might all learn from her courage. New episodes will be released every Wednesday throughout mid-July.