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Erkin O’zbekiston Report distributed to the participants of the OSCE SHDM – II

14.05.2022 admin

Russian Question

Today many Russians or Russian speakers in Europe face hostility and discrimination. We call on the leaders of free and democratic Europe to take steps to protect ethnic Russians, Russian speakers from different post-Soviet countries, and citizens of the Russian Federation who stand against Putin’s war, and save them from discriminatory attacks. Campaign against Russian-speakers and enthnic Russians hits, first and foremost, those  qualified specialists from Russia who refuse to support Putin’s regime and are seeking opportunities to make a contribution in Europe.

Russians that stand against the war are in a double jeopardy today. The Russian government persecutes them while the global community, and Europe specifically, discriminates against them. Banks refuse to deal with them, companies stopped hiring them, internet companies have limited their services for them.

Being Russian is not a choice. Opposing Putin’s regime and its disastrous and inhumane war is. Many Russians have made this choice, and yet the deplorable hostility and discrimination target Putin’s supporters and opponents alike. Many refugees from Eastern Ukraine fleeing Putin’s army advance are ethnically Russian and speak Russian language. It is hard to imagine how it feels to flee the war only to find yourself being accused of speaking your own language and being stared at.

It is the duty of European leaders to be the voice of reason. European policy should aim to limit the Russian Federation’s ability to wage war. Understandably, often it is hard to do that while avoiding impact on anti-war activists in Russia and in the EU at the same time. But Europe does have all the instruments in place to ensure a more nuanced approach on its own territory. There should be no tolerance for Putin’s cronies in Europe, whatever their nationality and language might be. And there should be no hostility towards people trying to stop this madness even if they are Russian or speak Russian.

Another way to limit the ability of the Russian Federation to wage war is to attract its most competent specialists. Every engineer, scientist, doctor or entrepreneur leaving Russia weakens its economy, puts additional strain on Putin’s regime and ultimately limits its ability to wage war. Europe should adopt policies and incentives to attract as many of them as possible, where the same skills will benefit the European economy and technological potential.

The most important resource in the conflict between Putin and the free world is people. People, individuals, their skills and character, their allegiance will determine the outcome. By adopting the right policies Europe can isolate Putin and his gang even from the Russian people.

We call on you to help those Russian-speakers and Russians who, for one or another reason, are already in Europe, who are making their full contribution to the efforts of stopping the war and restoring democracy in Russia. It is important to make it possible for those fleeing Putin’s regime to find safe harbour in Europe. The countries of Europe will greatly benefit from this intellectual migration.

We would like to underline that the Russian language has been used by the majority of post-Soviet people as their lingua franca and also, by many, as their main language of expression. Russian can be seen as a colonial language, the language of mad dictatorship, propaganda and war; but it is also the language of peace, love and reason, the language of charity and resistance, of friendship and brotherhood. Post-Soviet people in Europe should not be stigmatized for their choice to communicate in Russian. Russian language will outlive both Putin and his war machine, 250 million Russian speakers should not share a collective responsibility for the crimes of Putin regime.

Hasanboy Burhanov, the founder of the political opposition movement Erkin O’zbekiston

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings – II. Hofburg Congress Center, Vienna (Austria) 16.05.2022