IRI to Honor Speaker Boehner, Mo Ibrahim & Boris Nemtsov with 2015 Freedom Award

July 27, 2015

Washington, DC – At this year’s Freedom Award Ceremony, IRI will recognize the leadership of Speaker John A. Boehner, Dr. Mo Ibrahim and Boris Nemtsov.  Each have been strong advocates for democracy, freedom and good governance at a time when those ideals are under attack around the world.

The awards will be presented at a dinner in Washington, DC on September 9, which will also feature remarks by U.S. Senator John McCain, chairman of IRI’s Board of Directors.

Register to attend the 2015 Freedom Award Ceremony.

“In this complex and dangerous world, the work of IRI and the commitment of leaders like Speaker Boehner and Dr. Ibrahim to advancing freedom and good governance is more important than ever,” said Senator McCain.  “This work takes real courage and conviction, perhaps best displayed by my dear friend Boris Nemtsov, who gave his life in the fight for freedom, human rights and rule of law in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

Speaker Boehner and Dr. Ibrahim will attend the evening’s dinner and accept their awards in person. 

“We are honored to have three notable leaders at this year’s Freedom Dinner,” said Ambassador Mark Green (ret.), IRI’s president.  “They have each given years of service and dedication, and in the case of Boris, even his life, to democracy and good governance.”

Honoree and Speaker Biographies

Speaker John A. Boehner
John Boehner was elected the 53rdSpeaker of the United States House of Representatives in January 2011 and has represented the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio since 1991.  Throughout his career, Speaker Boehner has been committed to building a strong America at home and abroad.  He has spoken out against Russian aggression, helped pass the Ukraine Freedom Support Act and worked to strengthen ties with countries in Europe to stand against Russia’s belligerence.  He has also led the fight to expand free markets and free trade, winning passage of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, Panama and won passage of Trade Promotion Authority.

Speaker Boehner is committed to advancing the cause of freedom and democracy around the world and supporting those struggling for liberty.  As Speaker, he has met with leaders and activists who have led the struggle for freedom and democracy in their own countries.  He was instrumental in crafting the landmark 1994 Contract with America and the 2010 Pledge to America.

Commenting on the support for democracy promotion, he has said, “We know freedom and democracy don’t come on the cheap.  They require vigilance – and rely on the tools of persuasion and progress.  One election doesn’t cut it.  There needs to be a lasting rule of law and fundamental respect for human rights.”

Dr. Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim is a leading voice for good governance, government accountability and transparency in Africa.  As the founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which he established in 2006 to support good governance and leadership in Africa, he has worked tirelessly to improve and strengthen democratic governance.  Born in Sudan, Ibrahim has had a successful career in business and has said of Africa’s future, “Governance is everything.  Without governance we have nothing.”

Through the Ibrahim Foundation African leaders are gaining the tools needed to govern more effectively and the recognition they deserve for governing democratically.  The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership recognizes leaders who have dedicated their tenure in office to developing their countries, improving the welfare and livelihoods of their people and paving the way for sustainable development.  The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is an annual assessment of the quality of governance in every African country.  The Ibrahim Forum brings together African political and business leaders, representatives from civil society, multilateral and regional institutions as well as Africa’s major international partners to identify policy challenges and priorities.  The Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship prepares the next generation of African leaders by providing them with senior-level work opportunities at organizations whose mandate it is to improve the economic and social prospects of Africa.

Boris Nemtsov
Awarded Posthumously
Boris Nemtsov was a Russian statesman and leader of the country’s democratic opposition.  A fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, Nemtsov was assassinated for his work on February 27, 2015, just steps away from the Kremlin.  A co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia-People's Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS) and a leader of the Solidarnost movement, Nemtsov was one of the highest profile democratic activists speaking out against Putin and his regime.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nemtsov was an up-and-coming reformer who was committed to building a democratic Russia.  He served as the first governor of Nizhny Novgorod (1991-97) and later served as minister of fuel and energy (1997) before being named deputy prime minister (1997-98).  In 1998, he co-founded Right Cause, a coalition group of democratic parties that became a leading advocate for reform in Russia.  The following year he co-founded the Union of Right Forces and was elected to the State Duma where he served as vice speaker until 2003.  In 2010, he helped establish the Coalition for Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption.  From 2012 until his assassination, Nemtsov co-chaired RPR-PARNAS, one of the few true opposition parties in Russia.

Nemtsov is widely known as an author, and at the time of his death was working on Putin. War, a report which proves the presence of Russian military in eastern Ukraine. 

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