To the people of Europe

We, the representatives of Odessa Intelligentsia Forum, are addressing you. Our city, which is going to celebrate its 220th anniversary this September, has always been a truly European city. Founded by a decree of the Empress Catherine the Great (who corresponded with Voltaire) Odessa was founded as a city of trade, sciences and arts and was inhabited by Europeans since its very foundation. Apart from Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish population Odessa could boast French, Italian, German, Greek, Polish and other developed nations living here and adding their input to its glory and prosperity. Let us now address the key point of our letter.

We, the people of culture, science and business are united by our pursuit to be heard in Europe and in the world. We sincerely share the ideas and beliefs of Euromaidan in Kyiv and we are dreaming to see our country as a free, prosper and democratic state. We would like to make our open and sincere address. As you know, the last months of 2013 and the dawn of 2014 witnessed our country’s fight against the totally corrupted and borderline criminal regime of Yanukovich. This fight was mainly led by Kyiv Maidan in an attempt to support the idea of Europe as a just and rightful society. As a result, hundreds were injured and many people lost their lives. Now, when the Ukrainian nation has suffered so many losses and expressed its intention to become a part of the European family – we have found ourselves threatened by a sudden blow of Putin’s Russia. The very existence of Ukraine is at risk, we are one step away from starting a war on the European continent. And it is at this very moment that we, alas, feel that great Europe is betraying us. Instead of showing clear support for the country shedding blood and tears for democratic values, it is with regret and failure to understand that we observe the most inconsistent and contradictory signals of your governments and intellectual elite. It is frequently possible to interpret these signals as an open or secret support of the aggressor’s regime – the Putin’s Russia.

According to Putin’s propaganda all Ukrainian people supporting the ideas of Euromaidan are fascists and anti-Semites. Is it truly possible to name our forum whose members are writers, musicians, poets, artists and businessmen a fascist meeting? Jews make up a half of our initiative group. Could we really be anti-Semites?

Some European intellectuals proclaim an allegedly neutral, balanced position – that is to criticize both conflicting sides.
However, after a closer examination it is clear that their “positive” approach is far from being neutral.

It appears to be more than strange to us that some representatives of your elite state that today’s crisis is a result of a long period of Russia’s political humiliation by the West, a sign of reluctance to accept Russia as part of Europe. However, if we speak about the actual conflict in Ukraine – it is Ukraine that has demonstrated by Euromaidan, its numerous victims and the following revolution, its desire to support European values and has thus proven its sincere intentions to become a part of Europe.

The unprecedented and open Russian aggression is a result of arrogant unwillingness to let the Ukrainian nation fulfill its dream and intention and become a member of the great European family. We may as well speak of Russia in this context as of a country whose latest ideological credo denies the core European values; as of a country whose deep belief is that the natural desire of the Ukrainian nation to join Europe is a threat for Russia’s totalitarian and quasi-dictatorial regime which is so ideologically strong and dangerous even for itself that it is ready to drown our country in blood as a preventive measure against the free choice of Ukrainian people.
Furthermore, it would be most unfair to say that the West has not been helping Russia for two recent decades.

It was only massive financial flows from the West that prevented the bankruptcy of Russia in the early 90s. Russia became a member of G8, WTO, has been cooperating with the Wolrd Bank, IMF and NATO all these years. When the Budapest Memorandum was signed, it provided only security assurances in respect of territorial integrity of Ukraine and no other compensation – in accordance with this Memorandum, Ukraine gave up its entire nuclear arsenal (the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world!).

Alas, as we can see now, this unprecedented gesture of goodwill, captatio benevolentiae, did not lead to Ukraine having security from the signatories; and Russia, on the contrary, has become a strategically stronger military nation.

Some European politicians say that NATO advances towards the Russian borders causes Russia to become a country that needs to protect itself. To protect itself from whom? From peaceful democratic Europe which denies war as a conflict-resolving method?

The diversionary war in the East, started by Russia immediately after its occupation of the Crimea, leads this region and its population of seven million into a complete chaos and anarchy under the auspices of joining Russia, yet people keep losing their lives there every day. The President Putin openly admits that he does not believe it is right for the entire South-East of Ukraine to even be a part of Ukraine; yet the South-East makes up for almost a half of Ukraine’s territory! What is even more dangerous, the President Putin, as you may well remember, requested the use of military force on the territory of sovereign Ukraine and the Parliament immediately approved this motion.

Russian military intervention into Ukraine, if taken further, will undoubtedly become a real war against European values and the values of democracy as well as a war against the very fact of Ukraine’s existence as an independent state.

There has been a great deal of irrefutable evidence to prove the use of the Crimean scenario again in Donetsk and Lugansk regions – started by the armed people from Russia or actually led by the Russian military leaders, the administrative buildings are being captured; then rough and ready referendums take place with the only possible goal for Russia to take over, step by step, the Ukrainian territory. The only difference between the events in the Crimea and in the East of Ukraine is in the Ukraine’s attitude. Ukraine has shown unprecented restraint in an attempt to avoid the bloodshed; however, having faced the continued aggression at the continental East of the country Ukraine has decided to finally protect itself as would ANY country in the world do.

The Ukrainian army in the East is not fighting the Russian-speaking population, it is fighting against well-armed diversional groups led by Russian special forces that terrorise the peaceful Russian-speaking population of Donbass and Lugansk regions. Separating the Ukrainian society into Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking parts, which are correspondingly Russia or Europe-oriented, is superficial and incorrect. Maidan’s activists spoke both languages when fighting against the regime. The overwhelming majority of the Russian-speaking population in the South-East of Ukraine, namely in the Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson, Zaporozhe, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk regions, are strongly against the Russian occupation and the annexation of our territory.

The people of Ukraine suffered from famine and lost millions of lives during the Nazi Germany invasion. Now we are asking Europe to help. Let the 21st century witness your support for our land! It is in your power to influence Putin’s regime and to prevent a great tragedy of the Ukrainian nation. Do not let them ruin Ukraine!

Odessa, May, 27, 2014

Forum coordinators:
Alexey Botvinov – a pianist, director
Alexander Roitburd – an artist
Eugene Demenok – a writer, benefactor

The members of the initiative group:
Igor Gusev – an artist
Alexander Dobroer – a sociologist
Oksana Dovgopolova – a philosopher
Vitaliy Oplachko – a businessman
Mikhail Reva – a sculptor
Valery Khait – a writer
Boris Khersonskiy – a poet