The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2023 49 “Improving corruption is a long-term generational process, so I have no illusions that passing legislation will by itself solve Bulgaria’s rule-of-law problems. But I do believe that our efforts to shine a light on corruption and push the government to do better are having a real impact on the ground.” Grayson served as a political-economic officer in Sofia from 2020 to 2023. She previously served in Tegucigalpa, Santo Domingo, and as the Armenia desk officer in Washington, D.C. Before joining the State Department Foreign Service, Grayson worked as a lawyer in private and public practice, focusing on international arbitration and civil litigation. On a fellowship from 2008 to 2009, she worked at Human Rights Watch and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Moscow. Marina Grayson received a B.A. in government from the University of Texas at Austin, a J.D. from New York University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. Born in Kyiv, she came to the United States as a refugee with her family, settling in San Antonio, Texas. She travels the world with her husband, Matthew, and their three children. Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy David Burnstein Standing Up for Human Rights in Russia When Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine in February 2022, many ordinary Russians defied their government and took to the streets in protest. Russian authorities detained thousands of citizens for expressing anti-war views, sentenced opposition figures to decades in prison, and trampled on fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. Standing up against Putin’s repression was a White House priority, and political officer Dave Burnstein led U.S. government efforts on the front lines of that effort in Moscow. Week after week, Burnstein showed up at Russian courthouses, often serving as the U.S. government’s sole representative at court hearings for Russians who had been detained simply for expressing their opinions. The stakes were enormous. Russian journalists accosted Burnstein, authorities tried to intimidate him, and the security services published his photo online. But he was not deterred and eventually became a fixture at the proceedings. Some colleagues from other missions called him the “dean of the diplomatic corps” at the courthouse for helping attract and inspire the attendance of dozens of diplomatic colleagues from other countries. Burnstein’s bold and effective efforts were the U.S. government’s most tangible demonstration of support for U.S. values amid Putin’s brutal crackdown. In one of the most hostile and challenging environments worldwide, amid an unprecedented deterioration in bilateral relations, Burnstein worked tirelessly in support of U.S. policies focused on advancing democracy, freedom, and governance. “It was a privilege to be part of U.S. Embassy Moscow’s advocacy for human rights and democratic principles in Russia during a very challenging period in our relations,” said Burnstein. “The democracy and anti-war activists whose trials I attended should never have been arrested. They are being prosecuted for daring to have and express opinions that are different from the Kremlin’s, and their resilience is inspiring.” When Russian authorities arrested Russian opposition leader and longtime embassy contact Vladimir Kara-Murza for expressing anti-war views, Burnstein led efforts within the embassy and international community to demonstrate to Putin that the world was watching. He rallied 40 foreign diplomats David Burnstein. David Burnstein speaks to reporters outside a Moscow courtroom in April 2023.