Tatiana Chertoritskaya was born 1948. She holds a PhD in philology and is both a well-known scientist and a specialist in the traditions of the Old Believers (a schismatic group of the Russian Orthodox Church). She is deputy of the Russian State Duma, and has worked in various federal bodies. In 2002 she founded and headed the women’s NGO Sotsyal-Democratichiesky Kongress Zhenshchin (Sdkz) ("Women’s Social-Democratic Congress"), which now has 55 regional offices. Tatiana focuses her efforts on fighting for gender equality, peace, and building civil society.
In 1974 Tatiana set off on her first scientific expedition to the Altai Mountains in order to study remote rural communities that were still observing the traditions of the breakaway Orthodox group, the Old Believers. She saw astonishing poverty and destitution in the mountain villages, where communist authorities, in their fight against religion, had even confiscated the ancient icons and prayer books that had been treasured by the inhabitants for ages. Yet the people had remained kind-hearted and hospitable. She remembers the words of one of the local elders: “If you don’t lose yourself, you’ll find everything.” These words remain engraved in Tatiana’s memory. She has always tried not to lose herself. In October and November 1993, for the first time in her life, Tatiana saw fierce clashes and blood in the streets of Moscow, when the Russian parliament was taken by force by presidential troops. Tatiana was deeply convinced that only peaceful measures should have been used to resolve the conflict. It also became clear to her then that she too, as a woman, publicist, lecturer and historian, should join the ranks of peace advocates. In 1994 Tatiana, herself a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, learnt from a radio news report about the invasion of Russian troops in Chechnya. The women deputies were unanimous in their opposition, but there were too few of them in positions of power. It was then that Tatiana asked: “Why are resolutions in favor of peace, so very obvious for every mother, not adopted by the majority power-wielding men? How can a balance of forces be achieved?” Since then Tatiana has been actively fighting to stop the bloodshed in Chechnya, realizing the crucial role to be played by women in finding peaceful solutions to armed conflicts.
Sotsyal-Democratichiesky Kongress Zhenshchin (Sdkz) Institute of Social Sciences Russian Union of Writers