In Ukraine, Fiction Has Lost Its Meaning


Thanks to the assist of the democratic a part of humanity, Ukraine has been preventing for its freedom for 2 and a half months towards the Russian military, which is far bigger, however, because it turned out, not a lot stronger than the Ukrainian military. Ukrainians are decided to win, to defend the sovereign proper to life in their very own free and democratic nation. Ukrainians on this struggle are united not solely by a typical enemy, but in addition by a typical European imaginative and prescient of the way forward for their state. Ukraine doesn’t actually have a selection. It’s going to both win and stay an impartial state, or, as President Putin desires, turn out to be a part of the brand new Soviet Union or the brand new Russian empire.

Once I take into consideration the present scenario in Ukraine and about what I have to say at present, I get the impression that I needs to be giving not the Arthur Miller Lecture, however the George Orwell Lecture. Russian aggression has stretched its steeling grip out to us as if from the distant Soviet previous, from the 20th century, from a rustic in which there’s a “Ministry of Reality” and a “Ministry of Happiness”, from a rustic the place the bloodbath of civilians and the destruction of cities is accompanied by the music of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, from a rustic the place even monuments to Pushkin are wearing navy uniforms and compelled to participate within the combat towards Ukraine and towards Ukrainian id and tradition.

I’ve a variety of questions: how did this turn out to be potential within the 21st century, within the period of excessive expertise, within the period of world financial, political and cultural cooperation?

I’m not but able to reply all these questions, however I don’t ignore them. I write down my solutions in order that I can later examine my solutions with the opinions of acknowledged analysts and political scientists.

And I’m studying to stay in wartime. I’ve discovered to be an internally displaced particular person. I do know what to do throughout shelling. I’m mastering a brand new layers of data, with out which it’s troublesome to outlive and act successfully throughout a struggle.

I’ve discovered learn how to journey from Ukraine to Europe, and this time even to the U.S. I’ve discovered to return to Ukraine as rapidly as potential. Above all, I’ve discovered to not write fiction. Beforehand, I couldn’t have imagined a scenario through which I might resolve to not write a novel. However it has occurred. Actuality is now scarier, extra dramatic than any fictional prose. On this context novels lose their which means. Now it’s essential to write down solely the reality, solely non-fiction. All those that can write are witnessing one of many worst crimes of the 21st century. The duty of a witnesses is to document and protect the proof of the crime.

Sure, now I’m a witness in a future felony trial. And even when this course of takes place later than I would really like, my testimony, just like the testimony of dozens of different Ukrainian writers and journalists, shall be claimed by the judges.

On the primary of Might, I sat in my automobile on the Ukrainian-Slovak border for 5 hours with the intention to go away war-torn Ukraine with the intention to get to Denmark and from Denmark to get right here, to New York, for this assembly. The gap it’s a must to cowl doesn’t turn out to be longer when the flat racecourse is transformed right into a steeplechase course. The gap is solely full of new which means and it requires new energy and new understanding from those that wish to overcome this distance. The identical factor occurs with any duties: struggle adjustments the principles for fixing duties however doesn’t make the specified end result not possible.

Right now the duty for Ukraine is to defend its independence, defend its freedom and full the reforms that ought to have been totally carried out way back. To forge any change, it’s worthwhile to know the reality of the scenario. For any decision-making, in struggle or in peacetime, with out an understanding the true state of affairs it’s not possible to realize a end result. You cannot even select the proper path to the objective.

I’m all the time stunned when Google Maps tells {that a} 40 km automobile journey will take me two hours. Sure, I’m all the time unpleasantly stunned on this scenario, however I’m not offended at Google maps. I’m offended concerning the unhealthy roads. Google maps is simply telling me the so-called “disagreeable” reality.

There are numerous folks on this planet who imagine that the reality should essentially be disagreeable. I personally have usually heard in my life the phrases “I wish to let you know an disagreeable reality!” And in such conditions, the query all the time worries me—these individuals who imagine that the reality is most definitely disagreeable, do they stay in a lie, do they stay in self-deception, do they conceal from the reality in order that they will preserve themselves in a nice and carefree life?

The reality can’t be nice or not nice. The reality can solely be the reality. What an individual does with it, how he perceives this reality, is a private matter for each. Whether or not they hides from it or, quite the opposite, arm themselves with the reality and, brandishing it, cost ahead in life, this can be a private selection.

In his performs, Arthur Miller introduced the reality about American life, concerning the issues confronted by immigrants, concerning the delusions that consciously or unconsciously lead folks to, what false values ​and false narratives lead folks to. His voice was highly effective and it was heard by many. However it was these “many” who needed to listen to the voice of reality. Those that didn’t wish to hear it tried to guarantee that the voice couldn’t be heard in any respect. Miller all the time fought for his rights, and particularly for the liberty to write down and say what he thought. Neither did he tire of preventing for the rights and freedoms of different writers. Due to the efforts of Arthur Miller and the American PEN, the Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, who later grew to become a residing world basic and Nobel laureate, was saved from loss of life. Arthur Miller’s work as president of the American PEN Heart deserves particular consideration.

Arthur Miller was by no means silent. As well as, he didn’t need others to be silent. He needed everybody to get pleasure from freedom of speech and different freedoms. He tried to contain Soviet writers in a dialogue about human rights, he traveled to Moscow and talked to them about the potential of registering a Soviet PEN membership. Soviet writers have been prepared for this, offered that the PEN Constitution was modified, offered that Worldwide PEN ceased to guard freedom of speech and different freedoms. Arthur Miller would by no means comply with this situation. The dialog with Soviet writers led nowhere. They weren’t free, they trusted the Communist Occasion of the united states, they needed to rely upon the federal government, as a result of this authorities fed them, paid for his or her more-or-less snug lives. This dialog with Soviet writers spoke extra concerning the function of writers and literature within the Soviet Union than concerning the naivety of Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller gave Soviet writers an opportunity to turn out to be a part of world literature. He didn’t perceive that Soviet writers have been primarily servants of the regime, and never thinkers or philosophers. They didn’t rely upon their readers. To an amazing extent, they didn’t affect them both.

Later, when his performs have been banned in the united states, he was at first perplexed by the ban. Absolutely there was nothing anti-Soviet in his performs! Ultimately, he realized how he had turn out to be the “enemy of the Soviet folks.” After which he understood a lot better the character of a totalitarian society and the function of literature and of writers in such a society.

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Arthur Miller has not been with us for 17 years, however his voice continues to resound on this planet and continues to show the ideas of a whole lot of hundreds, and perhaps tens of millions of individuals again to the seek for reality and justice. As a result of reality and justice can’t be separated. They’re interconnected. An individual who experiences the sharp ache of injustice, in no matter approach, can turn out to be a champion of reality. Such an individual is often able to combat for this reality and, if essential, to die for it.

I’ve all the time tried to keep away from pathos, and if I can’t keep away from it now, please forgive me. Pretentious phrases like “reality”, “justice”, “motherland” used to set my enamel on edge. I couldn’t however doubt the sincerity of the speaker if, after all, I used to be not totally satisfied of their insincerity. Now I catch myself pondering pretentious ideas. I attempt to muffle them. I strive to consider what is going on calmly and coolly. However, to be trustworthy, I don’t all the time succeed.

When the brand new, bloodier part of Russian aggression started on February 24 of this yr, when the shock of the primary days of the brand new struggle had handed, I discovered myself eager to look again and say “thanks” to everybody who had been with me in my pre-24th-of-February life and who had helped me make my life attention-grabbing, helpful, fulfilling and significant. The primary identify that got here to my thoughts was the identify of my nation, my Ukraine.

Ukraine is a rustic of individualists. Each Ukrainian has his personal private Ukraine. Each Ukrainian appreciates one thing particular about his homeland, one thing that’s vital for him or her. It may be the nation’s superb and numerous nature, it may be the fertile black soil that produces 10 % of the world’s wheat. For me, Ukraine is, initially, the house of my private freedom. This can be a nation that since 1991 has given me greater than thirty years of life and work with out censorship, with out political management, with out stress. Even at present, in the course of the Russian aggression, throughout assaults that day by day take the lives of Ukrainian residents: navy and civilian, the federal government of Ukraine has not launched actual navy censorship and has not instructed residents what to say or what to suppose. Sure, after all, details about what is going on on the fronts of the struggle just isn’t freely dispersed. We’ve got needed to study new guidelines of conduct relating to info. However even in wartime, the Ukrainian state has remained primarily democratic, attempting to not prohibit the freedoms of residents, together with the liberty of speech.

Ukrainians don’t settle for diktats or restrictions on their rights, particularly the proper to freedom of speech or freedom of faith. For Ukrainians, freedom has all the time been extra vital than cash, extra vital than residing requirements, extra vital than stability. In actual fact, there has by no means been stability in Ukraine exactly as a result of freedom was a precedence. In contrast to the Russians, for whom it appears, stability is extra vital than freedom and all particular person freedoms and rights.

Now, wanting again at thirty years of life within the Soviet Union and thirty-one years of my life in impartial Ukraine, I can solely say thanks to Ukraine for serving to make my dream come true. I grew to become a author and on the similar time remained utterly impartial of any political conjuncture. I notice that on this blissful state of mine there’s a nice advantage of my nation, which instantly after the collapse of the Soviet Union deserted the rules of whole management over the ideas, views and creativity of its residents.

While you stay in a free nation and are a free citizen, freedom appears to be one thing pure, one thing that nobody can take away from you. However in reality, even with the freedoms assured by the structure of Ukraine, in our nation there has all the time been a battle between those that needed to inform the reality and people who needed to make it inaccessible. Initially, it was not politicians who took half on this battle, however journalists. The variety of casualties amongst representatives of trustworthy journalism testify to the cruelty of this battle. Through the years of independence, about 100 journalists have died in Ukraine, prior to now two months greater than 20 of them have been killed by the Russian navy. Journalism stays one of the vital harmful professions, and in the course of the struggle it turns into much more harmful. The inscription “press” on a bulletproof vest or helmet is to the Russian navy, like a crimson rag to bull.

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The extent of journalism historically exhibits the extent of democracy in society. We will see how impartial journalism is being destroyed by the instance of annexed Crimea. Instantly after the annexation, some journalists remained working in Crimea, together with freelancers for Radio Liberty. One after the other, they have been deported from the peninsula or arrested. Citizen journalists stepped in to interchange them – brave individuals who understood the need of goal details about what was taking place. Right now, there are fourteen Ukrainian citizen journalists are in prisons in Crimea and Russia, towards whom felony circumstances have been fabricated. They’re accused of terrorism or non secular extremism, though their solely fault is that they voluntarily assumed the accountability to cowl the repression of the Russian authorities towards dissidents, towards those that don’t acknowledge the annexation of Crimea, towards those that don’t agree with Putin’s insurance policies. I wish to keep in mind by identify these brave individuals who have already been sentenced to lengthy jail phrases or are awaiting their sentence. They’re Vladislav Esipenko, Marlen Asanov, Osman Arifmemetov, Remzi Bekirov, Ruslan Suleimanov, Rustem Sheykhaliev, Server Mustafaev, Seyran Saliev, Timur Ibragimov, Amet Suleymanov, Alexei Besarabov, Irina Danilovich and former journalist, politician and deputy chairman of the Crimean Mejlis Nariman Dzhelal. Along with them, greater than 200 Ukrainian residents are in Russian prisons and within the prisons of the annexed Crimea on fictitious expenses.

Nariman Dzhelal, regardless of the 20-year jail time period that hangs over him, doesn’t conceal his perspective in the direction of the Russian occupation authorities, wishing Ukraine to defend its independence. From the Simferopol pre-trial detention middle, he handed over a letter, which I’ll learn to you:

Pricey Mates.

It could appear monstrous that within the 21st century, a rustic that took on the duty to keep up peace, a member of the UN Safety Council, has turn out to be an aggressor whose actions have led to tens of hundreds of victims among the many civilian inhabitants of Ukraine and among the many defenders of our nation. Nonetheless, that is actuality.

That is the results of the actions of the Russian management – for a few years, actions geared toward limiting human rights and resurrecting imperial ambitions.

It’s apparent that one can’t stay detached to this.

It’s essential to unite efforts to cease the killing of individuals and shield peace and democracy.

A lot of my fellow prisoners are ready for launch not solely from their private imprisonment – they’re additionally ready for the discharge of their nation into freedom.

Nariman Dzhelal

We can’t however admire the braveness of Nariman Dzhelal and his spouse Leviza. We will’t assist however admire the braveness of all his fellow citizen journalists and the resilience of their households, of their wives or husbands who perceive that their dad and mom’ perspective will result in kids rising up with out fathers or moms. However the kids will develop up realizing why their fathers or moms have been repressed by Russia. From early childhood they are going to perceive the worth of freedom, and the worth of preventing for his or her beliefs.

For a author and for a journalist, there isn’t a extra vital freedom than the liberty to write down. And if a journalist or author continues to write down, realizing that he will be repressed for this, this solely speaks of the braveness and dedication of such an individual.

My household’s world modified on February 24th. The entire world modified on February 24 this yr, when the getting old and ailing President Putin gave the order to launch a campaign towards Ukraine, towards the collective West, towards democracy and towards Western civilization.

Putin left Ukraine no selection however to combat for its independence to the tip, to the bitter finish. He left no option to the civilized world. The world ought to assist Ukraine, and the world does assist Ukraine defend its freedom, defend all of the freedoms of its residents.

Now, as I communicate to you, the Russian occupation forces within the Kherson area in southern Ukraine, close to the Black Sea, are attempting to change the Ukrainian Web to a Russian service and are warning residents within the occupied territories that quickly they won’t have entry to Fb or Instagram. That’s, on this approach the invaders warn the Ukrainians that they’re about to turn out to be “Russians” and that they have to settle for this as one thing that can’t be modified. They have to surrender their freedoms and rights, as tens of tens of millions of Russians have achieved. I understand how the individuals who remained below occupation really feel, I do know what they’re pondering now and my ideas are with them. A number of occasions I’ve spoken by way of messengers with colleagues who discovered themselves within the occupied zone. I’ve misplaced contact with a few of them. However I do know that they won’t settle for the principles of slavery that Russia is attempting to impose on Ukrainians who discover themselves within the territories occupied by the Russian military.

Ukrainian writers, whatever the language they write in, won’t ever surrender the liberty to write down what they suppose and what they think about vital.

Ukrainians, writers or not writers, can’t and won’t study to stay with out freedom. With out the freedoms which might be included within the obligatory and inviolable “record” of human rights!

This can be a barely edited model of Ukrainian novelist and PEN Ukraine President Andrey Kurkov’s 2022 Arthur Miller Freedom to Author Lecture, delivered Might 13 in New York Metropolis as a part of the PEN World Voices Festival.

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