EXODUS AT RUSSIAN PEN
Writers are abandoning PEN Russia. It is reported that Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, follows 30 other writers in leaving PEN to protest the expulsion from PEN Russia of journalist and activist Sergey Parkhomenko.
PEN’s strength has always been in its ability to bring writers together irrespective of culture, language or political opinion. PEN was founded on the idea that ‘no politics in PEN Clubs – under any circumstances’. Since 1921 PEN has stood since for freedom of expression, peace and friendship, not political debate.
Being apolitical is not an easy line to walk. In 1933 German PEN failed to protest against the burning of books in Nazi Germany and tried to prevent a Jewish author from speaking at the Congress in Dubrovnik. As a result, German PEN had its membership withdrawn.
Now, we see a similar controversy in Russia. PEN Russia has issued a statement in its defense which can be read here.