Translation of the text published on January 1st, 2015
and Radio Liberty :
Our conscience urges us today to respond to a recent letter from some descendants of the first Russian emigration after 1917. It was published on the website of the organization "Russian World", which is a type of propaganda weapon for "Russian compatriots abroad." In the context of the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the signatories are declaring their support for Vladimir Putin's policies and opposing the leadership of Ukraine.
Not wanting to indulge in polemics, we must at the same time note with regret that there are those among our family and friends who currently support the adventurist policy of the Kremlin. However, we who also represent the Russian emigration cannot accept the fact that its legacy is being used by the current leadership of Russia for propaganda purposes.
Kremlin propaganda has always, today as in the era of the all-powerful KGB, played on the patriotic feelings of the Russian emigrants. Certainly the majority of Russian immigrants of all generation continue to experience their connection to Russia, Russian culture and the Orthodox faith. But the Russian intelligentsia - from Berdyaev to Bukovsky - at all times was able to distinguish between the sacred spirit of freedom and truth of the "Russian idea" and the nationalistic policies of the Kremlin, whether pro-Communist or pro-Eurasian. Emigrant associations, media and youth organizations in Paris, London or New York align themselves with the Russia of Pushkin and Sakharov, not the Russia of Dugin and Zyuganov. Within the Russian emigrant community there is neither a pro-Communist nor pro-Eurasian party. A majority of Russian émigré parishes in France are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in the US many are under the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Church Abroad, rather than the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. For they have long since abandoned the heresy of ethnophyletism, which favors the Russian world, language and nation to the detriment of the unity of professing one baptism.
The main argument of those calling themselves the heirs of the Russian emigration and who support the politics of Vladimir Putin, is that the Ukrainian leaders are carrying out military operations in the Donbass. But they should know that Russia is the aggressor because those armed men who have seized Crimea and who today destabilize the situation in the Donets Basin are Russian citizens. They need to know that the current Ukrainian leadership is conducting a defensive and anti-terrorist struggle and, unlike the previous government, supports political decentralization. They need to know that there are many inhabitants of Crimea who are not Russians but Russian-speaking, and that today they deeply regret the accession by Russia as is evidenced by their unwillingness to give up their Ukrainian passports. They also need to know that, according to a public opinion poll, three-quarters of Donbass residents wish to remain a part of Ukraine. From the press and the Internet they know that Russia's policy towards Ukraine has been condemned by the majority of countries - members of the UN, and that Russia has been deprived of the right to vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). They know that Ukrainian President Poroshenko had repeatedly called for a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement and that these calls were not heeded by either the Ukrainian separatists or the Russian mercenaries.
However, all these arguments are rejected by those Russian emigrants because of their need to be recognized by the "Motherland", notwithstanding that the majority of the signatories have long been European citizens. They have lost confidence in the Western democracies, which makes them increasingly aligned with the ultra-right, populist and extremist parties that represent a minority in the European politics. Finally, they are completely unaware of the Ukrainian culture and its unique identity.
In spite of everything, we the undersigned are trying to establish a dialogue with the pro-Putin emigrant community. We are trying to explain to them that even Russian oligarchs have more confidence in Western democracies than the current authoritarian regime in Russia. Consequently, they prefer to live in Europe or in the United States and send their children to study there. We want to remind the Russian pro-Putin emigrants of the horrible disillusionment of those Russian émigrés blinded by nationalism who had defended Stalin's Russia, only to receive a bullet in the back of the head upon their return to the USSR. We want to remind them of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s covenant to "live not by lies" and call upon them to reject the lethal myth of “gathering of the Russian lands." We advise them to read the works of the outstanding Russian historian George Fedotov, who taught at St. Sergius in Paris and St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York: an ardent Russian patriot, who recognized the uniqueness of the centuries-old Ukrainian culture, along with the Moscow Rus as the successor to Kiev Rus. We want to remind them that Russia was great when it was open to the world and respected international law. That is the Russian tradition that deserves the show of solidarity. We should also support those citizens of Russian who struggle to defend truth, peace and human dignity.
But, alas, the pro-Putin emigrants do not hear us. They are fascinated by the growing power of the Russian kleptocracy. They believe the lie that Crimea has always been the Russian land (on the contrary, Crimea only became part of tsarist Russia at the end of the XVIII century), that Prince Vladimir was a Russian prince, and that Moscow should become the “Third Rome”...
Dmitri Akhtyrsky, USA
Antoine Arjakovsky, France.
Andrei Bessmertny Anzimirov, USA
Anna Brodskaja-Bomke, Germany
Anna Bykhovskaia, Germany
Tamara Candala, France
Pauline Gruental, USA
Artemij Keidan, Italy
Inga Leonova, USA
Toma Shevliakova, USA