PEN International are protesting the draconian laws placing a choke hold on the right to freedom of exrepssion in Russia. On 6th of February, an open letter, signed by over 200 writers including four Nobel laureates, was released and made front-page news in countries all over the world:
“The story of modern Russia is the story of dramatic, almost seismic change. Russian voices, both literary and journalistic, have always striven to make themselves heard above the clamour of their nation’s unfolding story – commenting on it, shaping it and, in doing so, contributing to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country’s borders. But during the last 18 months, Russian lawmakers have passed a number of laws that place a chokehold on the right to express oneself freely in Russia. As writers and artists, we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts.
Three of these laws specifically put writers at risk: the so-called gay “propaganda” and “blasphemy” laws, prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality and “religious insult” respectively, and the recriminalisation of defamation. A healthy democracy must hear the independent voices of all its citizens; the global community needs to hear, and be enriched by, the diversity of Russian opinion. We therefore urge the Russian authorities to repeal these laws that strangle free speech, to recognise Russia’s obligations under the international covenant on civil and political rights to respect freedom of opinion, expression and belief – including the right not to believe – and to commit itself to creating an environment in which all citizens can experience the benefit of the free exchange of opinion.”
Aki Kaurismäki, Abdizhamil Nurpeisov, Alejandro Sánchez-Aizcorbe, Alek Popov, Aleksandar Hemon, Alexander Gorodnitskiy, Alexey Simonov, Ali Smith, Alix Ohlin, Anders Heger, Anders Jerichow, Andrea Reiter, Andrei Nekrasov, Andrej Nikolaidis, Angel Cuadra, Annabel Lyon, Anthony Appiah, Antonio Della Rocca, Ariel Dorfman, Arnon Grunberg, Bei Dao, Bei Ling, Bigeldy Gabdullin, Carl Morten Iversen, Carme Arenas, Carol Ann Duffy, Cary Fagan, Charles Foran, Charlotte Gray, Chen Maiping, Ching-His Perng, Christine McKenzie, Christoph Hein, Clayton Ruby, Daniel Cil Brecher, Daniel Leuwers, Daša Drndic, David Bezmozgis, David Malouf, David Van Reybrouck, DBC Pierre, Debbie Ohi, EL Doctorow, Edward Albee, Eeva Park, Elfriede Jelinek, Elif Shafak, Ellen Seligman, Emile Martel, Entela Kasi, Eric Lax, Erwin Mortier, Eugene Benson, Eugene Schoulgin, Evelyn Juers, Francine Prose, Francois Thisdale, Françoise Coulmin, Fred Viebahn, Freya Klier, Gabrielle Alioth, Gao Yu, George Melnyk, Gert Heidenreich, Gioconda Belli, Gloria Guardia, Günter Grass, Günter Kunert, Guy Stern, Haroon Siddiqui, Helaine Becker, Helen Garner, Herkus Kuncius, Hori Takeaki, Ian McEwan, Igor Irteniev, Ilija Trojanow, Indrek Koff, Ingo Schulze, Irina Surat, Jane Urquhart, Janice Williamson, Janne Teller, Jarkko Tontti, Jean-Luc Despax, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jennifer Clement, Jennifer Egan, Jennifer Lanthier, Jo Glanville, Jo Hermann, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, John Ashbery, John Massey, John Ralston Saul, Joke van Leeuwen, Jon Lee Anderson, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem, Josef Haslinger, Jostein Gaarder, Jukka Koskelainen, Jukka Laajarinne, Julian Barnes, Karen Connelly, Katherine Govier, Kätlin Kaldmaa, Kirsty Gunn, Kjell Westö, Klaus Staeck, Kyo Maclear, Larry Siems, Laurel Croza, Laurence Paton, Lauri Otonkoski, Lawrence Hill, Leena Parkkinen, Linwood Barclay, LIU Di, Lorna Crozier, Louise Dennys, Lucina Kathmann, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Ma Jian, Ma Thida, Magda Carneci, Margaret Atwood, Margie Orford, Marian Botsford Fraser, Mark Harris, Markéta Hejkalová, Markus Nummi, Marsha Skrypuch, Masha Gessen, Max Alhau, Michael Guggenheimer, Michael Krueger, Michael MacLennan, Michael Ondaatje, Michelle de Kretser, Miriam Cosic, Myrna Kostash, Nadezda Cacinovic, Neetha Barclay, Neil Bissoondath, Neil Gaiman, Nelofer Pazira, Niels Barfoed, Nino Ricci, Ola Larsmo, Oleg Khlebnikov, Olga Kuchkina, Orhan Pamuk, Patricia Storms, Patrick Lane, Paul Auster, Per Wästberg, Peter Godwin, Peter Normann Waage, Peter Schneider, Peter Stamm, Peter von Bagh, Philip Slayton, Philippe Pujas, QI Jiazhen, Raficq Abdulla, Ralph Giordano, Raymond Louw, Rein Raud, René Appel, Riikka Pelo, Robert Chang, Rohinton Mistry, Ron Deibert, Russell Banks, Salman Rushdie, Sarah Slean, Sergey Gandlevskiy, Sheila Heti, Sheree Fitch, Simon Racioppa, Siri Hustvedt, Sirpa Kähkönen, Sjón, Smagul Yelubay, Sofi Oksanen, Sreko Horvat, Steven Galloway, Susan Coyne, Susin Nielsen, Suzanne Nossel, Sylvestre Clancier, Tanis Rideout, Terry Fallis, Thomas Keneally, Tienchi Martin-Liao, Tomica Bajsic, Tone Peršak, Tony Cohan, Tony Kushner, Ulrich Beck, Uwe Timm, Valery Nikolayev, Veronika Dolina, Vida Ognjenovic, Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, Vincent Lam, Vladislav Bajac, William Nygaard, William Schwalbe, Wole Soyinka, Yang Lian, Yann Martel, Yuri Ryashentsev, Zhang Yu, Zhao Shiying, Ching-Hsi Perng