WASHINGTON— The Woodrow Wilson Center, the Ratiu Center for Democracy, and the Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation, are pleased to announce that Eleonora Cercavschi is the 2008 Recipient of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award. Mrs. Cercavschi is the principal of Stefan the Great High School (Stefan Cel Mare Si Sfint Lyceum) in Grigoriopol, Moldova. The award will be presented at the Woodrow Wilson Center on December 4, 2008, during the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture.

Mrs. Cercharschi is a dedicated human rights and democracy activist who has devoted her career to defending children's right to be educated in their own language. During the last 15 years children in Romanian-language schools in Transnistria have faced discrimination and persecution. Transnistrian authorities insist that public education for ethnic Moldovans in their mother tongue be done using the Soviet-originated Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet. The separatist regime, supported by Moscow, has restricted the usage of the Latin script (the norm) for the Romanian language to 6 schools, which did not want to comply with this rule. In 2002, under the pressure from Transnistrian authorities, the high school was shut down, and relocated to Dorotcaia, Dubasari district, an area controlled by the central authorities of the Republic of Moldova, some 20 km (approximately 12.5 miles) away.

The purpose of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture is to bring visibility and international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy. The lecture strives to enrich the intellectual environment in which ideas about democracy and democratic change circulate, both within and beyond Washington. Sponsored by the Ratiu Family Foundation (London, UK) and the Ratiu Center for Democracy, (Turda, Romania,) the event expresses the deep commitment to democracy of the late Ion Ratiu through his contributions as a Romanian politician and intellectual as well as his interest in democratic change worldwide. The 2006 Ratiu Democracy Lecture was given by Egyptian democracy activist Saad Ibrahim. Dr. Ibrahim discussed the lessons for the Middle East countries from the process of transition to democracy in Eastern Europe. The 2007 Ratiu Democracy Lecture was awarded to Anatoli Mikhailov of Belorussia, who discussed Democracy as a Challenge.

The lecture will take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center, on December 4, 2008, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., in the 6th Floor Auditorium. For more information, visit www.wilsoncenter.org/ratiu.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and world affairs.