Congress of Intelligentsia against War meets in Moscow

posted 24 Mar 2014, 09:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Mar 2014, 09:49 ]
20 March 2014

Source: (info
A "Congress of the Intelligentsia against War, the Isolation of Russia and the Restoration of Totalitarianism” has met in Moscow in the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, as reported by

Those present included the author Lyudmila Ulitskaya, the economist Evgeny Gontmakher, Irina Prokhorova (one of the leaders of the party Civic Platform), the political scientist Mark Urnov, the historian Andrei Zubov, Aleksei Simonov (head of the Glasnost Defence Foundation), the human rights activist Lev Ponomarev and the actress Liya Akhedzhakova.

"Today is one of those times in a country’s life when we come together in order to give a joint sigh of relief and exclaim, “I cannot keep silent!” said Ulitskaya in her opening speech.

"Even at the most dramatic points in history, the intelligentsia has always tried to restore a point of moral reference to society, since there can be no state, no politics and no economy without morals. This is the very task we are setting ourselves now, by calling on all kinds of people to unite around the idea of a peaceful settlement of disagreements, both with Ukraine and with the global community,” states the resolution adopted by the members of the Congress.

An appeal proposing that a congress be held had been published on 13 March by 89 Russian intellectuals.

According to this appeal, "Our country has become embroiled in a highly risky venture. The Crimea has effectively been annexed already, under cries of, “Let us defend the Russians in the Crimea and all Ukrainians from the new illegitimate fascist powers in Ukraine!” International law has been gravely violated and the principles of European security and stability have been shattered. Russia is hurtling headlong towards a new Cold War with the West which would have unforeseeably grave consequences.”

It goes on to say that, "The Congress will not only debate the current situation and issue an opinion on what is happening, but also attempt to find way to resolve a state of affairs which is depriving our country of any kind of perspective for a dignified life in the foreseeable future.”

Those who signed the statement included human rights activists Lyudmila Alekseeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Sergei Kovalev, the authors Andrey Bitov, Vladimir Voynovich and Viktor Yerofeyev, the actors Mikhail Efremov, Lev Prygunov and Aleksandr Filippenko, the directors Pavel Bardin and Eldar Ryazanov, the mathematician Viktor Vasilyev and many others.

On 8 March, Russia film-makers answered a call for peace by their Ukrainian counterparts by speaking out against the “unprecedented campaign launched against the Ukraine by the Russian state television stations”. An open letter signed by many famous directors, script writers and cinema critics said, “Like you, we are categorically opposed to misleading coverage of events which are of momentous importance for Ukraine, and we are even more opposed to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine… We stand for the truth and we stand for you!” A separate open letter was published by the film director Aleksandr Sokurov, in which he said, “Ukraine will survive regardless as the state it wanted to become. We will be the ones to suffer a blow which utterly destroys the very nature of our country”. Ukrainian actors responded by recording a video message to Russian viewers.

A number of calls for peace have been issued by authors belonging to the Russian PEN Centre and their counterparts in other European countries. The rock musicians Boris Grebenshchikov, Vyacheslav Butusov and Yury Shevchuk have also called for an end to hostilities. Grebenshchikov has recorded a new song, “Love in the time of war.”

Many creative intellectuals also took part in the anti-war protests in Moscow.

Joanne Reynolds