Writers against PEN center

Before long Russian holidays, the Executive Committee of Russian PEN centre, was expelled for life from its members, a journalist and founder of the project “the Last address” and “Discerned” Sergei Parkhomenko “for deviation from the immutable principles rooted in the Charter of the International PEN club, for provocative activities incompatible with the goals and objectives of the Russian PEN-center.”


In addition, the leadership of the PEN-center has suspended the membership of the poet Grigory Petukhov and issued a strict warning to the prose writer Marina Vishnevetskaya for “dissemination in the media of biased mounted texts and video of the meeting 15.12. 2016, which led to the falsification of the essence of the event and further exploited by unscrupulous Internet users and the media”. After the decision of the Executive Committee entered into force, the well-known Russian writers began to challenge it and to leave the club, considering these actions are illegal.


Now the application for withdrawal from the club have already written more than 20 people — such a scandal in Russia, nor in the International PEN Center was not. About what is happening, oDR, and told former and current members Foam.

Denis Dragunsky, writer: a Conflict occurred because of different understanding of the goals and objectives of the creative writing club in our time. The members of PEN center asked for clemency of the prisoner in the bounty is one of the most important goals, what could be scary?


Moreover, that means the signature of “a member of PEN center”? It’s just identification. Why is it necessary to eliminate? Now, if he wrote a letter to retirees and signed “retired, Ivanov, Petrov and Sidorov”, and they would say that they have no right to speak on behalf of pensioners, and began to exclude them from pensioners for this? The split occurred at the General meeting, when the Charter had been violated in the election of the President and of the Executive Committee.


The fact that there is a genuine Charter, and there are truncated and rewritten, and posted on the website. The election was a violation of the Charter is authentic. After they held them, I, like many of the missing, received a letter in the mail asking “can I still vote” following soon after. I even did not respond — this is some nonsense, this has not thought of any rigged elections. His behavior, they debased the idea of morality and freedom.


— And the tone of the letters of the Executive Committee surprise you?


Is this the usual Soviet rhetoric: “destructive forces, we are tired Parkhomenko…”, and from whom they are tired? It is ridiculous to even talk about it. They want to go a system, to return to the Soviet discipline, well, let they swirl, we swirl as something different. I want to live by the law, in strict accordance with the Charter, which must meet the basic principles of law (this is the reason I clarify: they can accept a new Charter limiting the ability of ordinary members to influence the leadership — but it will null and void the decision). In General, don’t wink, falsify and cheat.


Olga Romanova, a journalist, human rights: the Conflict lasts for several years, when us, a few writers and journalists, invited to join Ludmila Ulitskaya.


A couple of years ago we began to try to drive in violation of the Charter. I several times went to meetings in the Central House of writers, from his Komsomol childhood, I never heard such speeches.


PEN has become anecdotal in the organization — seem to find themselves at the Congress of the Union of writers, where Alexei Surkov poison parsnip. Fortunately, the reaction to their persecution of us is not the same as in Pasternak.


But generally, when you see all this, wondering about how to age. Serious question, actually.


— And you personally gave the membership?


— The feeling of belonging to the world community. But satisfying your request for memories of the party meetings, I dropped the PEN and stopped paying membership fees. Now I do not go out from it only for one simple reason — I would not have joined.


— What should the PEN-Center, in your opinion, in the modern realities of Russia?


— Could fight for freedom of speech. Now, for example, the printing house refused to print the book of the journalist and writer Sergei Khazova-Cassia for his own money. Refused because it was terrible. And actually for this and need the PEN Center to help print terrible truthful book. Before leaving prison memoirs, and now they are afraid to print — and then would need a PEN. His case was to protect Chechen writer Herman Sadulayev, who is unable because of a conflict with Ramzan Kadyrov to feel safe. And no matter what I, for example, it is not close to the views of the author.


To protect the right to freedom of speech, because in Russia there is article 282 of the Criminal code (“inciting hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity”) — and it can be applied to everyone.


Alexander Arkhangelsky, a literary critic, prose writer, TV anchor: a Source of conflict — in addition to the personal qualities and characteristics of its participants; it is just inevitable — in a fundamentally different understanding of what the Russian section of the international human rights organization of writers. Alexander Arkhangelsky.


Some believed PEN a kind of the writers ‘ Union with some human rights element, for others the main purpose is the protection of the persecuted, first of all colleagues, regardless of political views and the rightness/wrongness of the persecuted.


Personally, you gave a part in the Club?


— From the perspective of the household nothing. Only contributions paid. From the point of view of social opportunities to make public statements, to prepare a joint letter, to somehow support the people. The last letter I signed with an appeal to pardon Oleg Sentsov. Now we act otherwise.


— What would have to be a PEN in Russia?


— Ideally — it was just good that PEN brings together people of very different, sometimes incompatible. When smart, sober and calm leadership could encompass the whole field — some better react to the tragedy after the other on the fate of Pro-Russian journalists in Ukraine, all together — on the persecution of Azerbaijani colleagues of Akram Aylisli. And so on. But — did not happen. And it had to be that way.


Natalia Sokolovskaya, writer, translator. A member of the St. Petersburg branch of the PEN club: Russian PEN-center a few years ago, invited to his Executive Committee Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Invited because her writing name known in the world, its membership was of great importance for the image of the organization inside the country.


During the work of Ulitskaya in the Executive Committee in the Russian PEN-center was opened about thirty well-known journalists, writers and bloggers for whom the idea of human rights protection was not something abstract. But after 2014, the life of the PEN center, and across the country, could not be the same, and it became impossible to hide internal differences.


It turned out that all of these newly adopted people too independent and interfere very calm, not upsetting the authorities, human rights activities. The Executive Committee turned out to be writers can, and good, but little compatible with the objectives set out in the Charter of the International PEN Club, of which the Russian PEN-center, it concerns the actual human rights activities.


Many members of the Foam, without waiting reactions of the Executive Committee, have become quite cautious in the new political realities, did human rights statements on their own. In 2015, all people, given Ulitskaya wanted to exclude allegedly employed by the Charter. The part of the Foam were outraged by this decision, wrote to the Executive Committee a letter, made the story public. As a result, the outcasts were now only eight people — but we defended. I wrote a recommendation on how many. But most importantly, Russian PEN ceased to follow the international Charter. This is also confirmed by the shameful history of denial of the letters in defence of Oleg Sentsov, which was signed by 64 members of the PEN centre. It should be noted the language in which written statements of the Executive Committee: this is the style era of stagnation, if not the style of the editorials 30 years.


— What is the membership for you?

— Ability to speak, join with caring people who care what is happening in the country. Now I never leave the PEN Centre only because of the St. Petersburg PEN is separate from the Central. But the people who are now of the Central Foam for me become almost a family, it is such a wonderful unity. PEN left writers whose names are known throughout the country. The Charter of St. Petersburg the Foam allows you to receive members only on a territorial basis. Sorry, we can’t all who came, to take. Think of the mass Exodus did not know none of the PEN-club in the world.


— What should the PEN-club?


— Protection of rights. And certainly not by publishing books on presidential grants, especially if it’s collections, or otherwise play up the theme of war in Transnistria and the Donbas. This is also a way to be a nice power.


Sergey Kuznetsov, writer, journalist: In Russia as in the world, PEN must defend freedom of speech and culture. Since the 90-ies he was doing in Russia. However, carried out moral support form did not affect directly on any political decisions, but nonetheless.


But as we understand, the more, the sharper become the statements of the companies. Some writers don’t want to go into conflict with the authorities and become “foreign agents”.


To appoint an “agent” can anyone, therefore, the Board of the PEN centre, took a softer stance especially on issues of Ukraine and Oleg Sentsov, who is accused of terrorism. Due to the difference of political views, the Executive Committee is very ugly rewrote the Statute. More precisely, he treats him very loosely — and from human rights organizations became decorative.


— You will leave your members Foam?


— I still hope that the situation will change. There will be normal elections of the Executive Committee, with normal nominations and counting of results — and then my voice will be useful. Besides, PEN is an international organization and I would not want to leave her because of her Russian branch of captured people, for whom I, to put it mildly, awkward.


Now attempts are being made to somehow change the situation from the inside of the PEN center, but if everything will continue in the same spirit, then, alas, will have to get.