Наш ответ Американскому ПЕНу
Dear American friends,
We sincerely appreciate your concern about the unfortunate situation developing in the Russian PEN center: https://pen.org/press-release/pen-america-expresses-concern-over-recent-developments-at-pen-russia/ Evidently, you have heard one side of the story – there’s always the other side. The case in question - the cancellation of the membership of Mr. Sergey Parkhomenko – is a clear and simple one, purely disciplinary. He appears to be a very rude person, our member colleagues have been constantly suffering from his verbal aggression in the media. When he came to broadcast his view that the honorary president of the Russian PEN and the vice-president of PEN International Mr. Andrey Bitov was a delirious old alcoholic we thought we had to take measures. Mr. Parkhomenko could be sued for libel, but we have opted for a softer decision.
Certainly, his case was just a trigger to explode the controversy that had existed in our PEN center for the last couple of years. It’s about whether to remain unbiased in our human rights actions. It’s also a projection of the horrible Russian-Ukrainian warfare which has been going on in our neighboring countries. Mr. Parkhomenko and his supporters leaving the Russian PEN now are of the opinion that the current Russian power is the only source of all misfortunes in Russia and Ukraine. Any criticism of the crimes committed by the Ukrainian regime against oppositional writers and journalists is irrelevant to them, their native Russia being the only evil. However, there have been a few murders and dozens of arrests, beatings and repressions against writers and journalists in Ukraine in the past two years, nothing of the kind happening in Russia. Their discourse is hardly a human rights one but a politically prejudiced one, and this has been the crux of the matter for some time. We admit that the media warfare may be powerful and convincing, but the facts and rational thinking should always be with us to have proper understanding and take the right steps.
It’s important to mention here that the Russian PEN center has been carefully watching the situation with Oleg Sentsov and taking appropriate actions. His complicated case is aggravated with a very serious charge – acts of terrorism. It is also essential to inform you that the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich has never been a member of the Russian PEN, so her declaration of leaving it sounds bizarre. Also, the number of the protesting PEN members makes about 10 per cent of the whole club, 90 per cent of the members being confident in the current policy.
The Russian PEN center remains an autonomous organization just like any other national center in our association but, of course, we are grateful for any attention, help or advice from our colleagues.
We find it would be fair to publish this letter on your website.
With friendly respect,
The Executive Committee of the Russian PEN center