Russian democrats denounce the Kremlin’s belligerent policy towards Ukraine


The following letter from prominent Russian democratic intellectuals appeared in the The New York Review February 4.

There is an ever-increasing stream of alarming news about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are reports of an increase in the recruitment of mercenaries in Russia and the transfer of fuel and military equipment to the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In response, Ukraine arms itself and NATO sends additional forces to Eastern Europe. The tension does not diminish, but rather rises.

Russian citizens become de facto hostages of a reckless adventurism that now characterizes Russian foreign policy. Not only do the Russians have to live with the uncertainty of whether a full-scale war will start, but they are also experiencing a sharp rise in prices and a devaluation of their currency. Is this the kind of politics the Russians need? Do they want war and are they ready to bear the brunt of it? Did they allow the authorities to gamble with their lives like this?

But no one asks the opinion of Russian citizens. There is no public debate. State television presents only one point of view, that of the warmongers. Direct military threats, aggression and hatred are aimed at Ukraine, the United States and the West. But the most dangerous thing is that war is portrayed not only as permitted, but as inevitable. This is an attempt to deceive the population, to impose on them the idea of ​​going on a crusade against the West, rather than investing in the development of the country and the improvement of the standard of living. The cost of the conflict is never discussed, but the price – the enormous and bloody price – will be paid by the Russian people.

We, responsible citizens and patriots of Russia, appeal to Russian political leaders. We openly and publicly denounce the War Party which has formed within the government.

We represent the view of those in Russian society who reject war, who consider it illegal to use military threats and to deploy a style of blackmail in foreign policy.

We refuse war, while you, the War Party, consider it acceptable. We stand for peace and prosperity for all Russian citizens, while you put our lives on the line in political games. You deceive and manipulate people, while we tell them the truth. You don’t speak on behalf of the Russian people, we do. For decades, the Russian people, who lost millions of lives in past wars, lived by the saying, “if only there were no war”. Did you forget that?

Our position is quite simple. Russia does not need a war with Ukraine and the West. No one threatens us, no one attacks us. Policies based on the idea of ​​such a war are immoral and irresponsible and should not be carried out in the name of the Russian people. Such a war lacks legitimacy and has no moral basis. Russian diplomacy should take no position other than a categorical rejection of such a war.

Such a war not only does not reflect Russia’s interests, but also threatens the very existence of the country. The senseless actions of the country’s political leaders, pushing us in this direction, will inevitably lead to a mass anti-war movement in Russia. Each of us will naturally play a part in it.

We will do everything in our power to prevent this war and, if it starts, to stop it.


Lev Ponomaryov, human rights activist

Valery Borshchev, human rights activist

Svetlana Gannushkina, human rights activist

Leonid Gozman, politician

Liya Akhedzhakova, actress and People’s Artist of the Russian Federation

Andrey Makarevich, musician

Garri Bardin, director

Viktor Chenderovitch, writer

Tatiana Lazareva, TV presenter

Andrey Zubov, historian and politician

Andrey Nechaev, politician

Alina Vitukhnovskaya, writer

Alexandre Belavin, physicist

Nikolai Rozanov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Natalia Evdokimova, executive secretary of the Saint Petersburg Human Rights Council

Efim Khazanov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Ilya Ginzburg, physicist and professor

Zoya Svetova, journalist

Grigory Yavlinsky, politician

Lev Shlosberg, politician

Boris Vishnevsky, politician

Lev Gudkov, sociologist and professor

Igor Chubais, philosopher

Tatyana Voltskaya, poet and journalist

Boris Sokolov, historian and writer

Mikhail Krieger, civic activist

Veronika Dolina, poet

Vladimir Mirzoev, director

Ksenia Larina, journalist

Andrey Piontkovsky, publicist

Mark Urnov, Professor, National Research University Graduate School of Economics

Mikhail Lavrenov, writer

Nikolai Prokudin, writer

Elena Fanailova, poet and journalist

Grigory Mikhnov-Vaytenko, clergyman

Lev Levinson, human rights activist

Sergei Germann, member of the Writers’ Union of Russia

Vladimir Alex, civil activist

Yuri Gimmelfarb, journalist

Yuri Samodurov, human rights activist

Evgeniy Tsymbal, civil activist

Vitaly Dixon, writer

Natalya Mavlevitch, translator

Ashraf Fattakhov, lawyer

Viktor Yunak, writer

Valeria Prikhodkina, human rights activist

Elena Grigorieva, children’s poet

Vera Shabelnikova, editor

Mair Makhaev, philosopher and linguist

Grigory Amnuel, producer, director, publicist and politician.

Sergei Krivenko, human rights activist

Yaroslav Nikitenko, environmental and civil activist and scientist

Tatyana Yankelevich Bonner, human rights activist

Nikita Sokolov, historian

Anatoly Golubovsky, historian

Nikolai Rekubratsky, researcher

Vitold Abankin, human rights activist

Elena Bukvareva, doctor of biological sciences

Igor Toporkov, human rights activist

Evgeny Kalakin, director

Liudmila Alpern, human rights activist

Nina Caterly, writer

Vladimir Zalishchak, city deputy

Olga Mazurova, doctor

Oleg Motkov, director

Natalya Pakhsaryan, professor at Moscow State University

Elena Volkova, philologist and culturologist

Valery Otstavnykh, director and journalist

Georgy Karetnikov, civil activist

Marina Boroditskaya, writer

Sergey Lutsenko, animation supervisor

Alexey Diveev, programmer

Tatyana Vorozheykina, lecturer at the Free University of Moscow

Tatyana Kotlyar, human rights activist

Anatoly Barmin, pharmacist

Valentin Skvortsov, professor at Moscow State University

Lev Ingel, physicist

Mikhail Mints, historian

Leonid Chubarov, professor

Katya-Anna Taguti, artist

Elena Efros, civil activist

Anna Shapiro, director

Tatyana Dorutina, member of the Saint Petersburg Human Rights Council

Arkady Konikov, programmer

Sergei Pechenkin, civil activist

Anatoly Razumov, historian

Alexander Sannikov, Colonel of the Russian Armed Forces (retired)

Anatoly Tsirlin, teacher

Karen Hakobyan, teacher

A complete list of signatories is available here.

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