Nobel laureate Alexievich quits ‘shameful’ Russian PEN


Russian PEN has dismissed Svetlana Alexievich’s decision to leave the freedom of speech organisation, saying she cannot quit because she has never been a member – prompting the Nobel prize winner to reveal photographic proof of her membership, The Guardian reports:

Alexievich announced that she was quitting the Russian branch of the worldwide group because of the writers’ centre’s “shameful” expulsion of journalist and activist Sergey Parkhomenko. She joined an exodus of 30 other writers, including bestselling crime novelist Boris Akunin and poet Lev Rubinstein, who left after Parkhomenko was accused by Russian PEN of “destroying it from within” and for “provocative” and “rude behaviour”. The writers leaving said Parkhomenko’s expulsion came after he criticised the organisation for not supporting Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov, who is serving 20 years in prison.

The proposition that U.S.-Russia relations can be improved to the benefit of both nations remains to be tested, argues Zalmay Khalilzad (left), a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. Two adjustments in U.S. policy – a disinclination to promote domestic change in Russia or to favor immediate further NATO expansion – would likely lead to a favorable reaction by Putin. Nevertheless, the recent state of relations between the two countries necessitates that any policy shift rest on a foundation of rebuilding U.S. strength and deterrence, he writes for The National Interest.

By standard scholarly definition, Russia today is not an illiberal democracy: It is an early-stage fascist state, argues Vladislav L. Inozemtsev, director of the Centre for Post-Industrial Studies (Moscow). Putin’s Russia looks like a belch of communism and imperialism in a world lukewarm to both; it’s something built “from the top” that is passively supported by the people rather than pushed forward by them, he writes for The American Interest. So the main task of the Western powers consists not in trying to undermine or destroy the current Russian regime, but simply to outlive it. As depleted as the power of many Western states today may be, that, at least, ought to be doable.

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