An Appeal to Suspend Relations with Russian Libraries
An Appeal to Suspend Relations with Russian Libraries: They are an Integral Part of the Russian War Propaganda and Support the Russian Government’s Policy of Aggression
In light of the armed aggression launched against Ukraine and its people by the government of the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian Library Association calls on IFLA to stop cooperation and suspend IFLA membership of Russian libraries and librarians.
Libraries and librarians in Russia are an integral part of the Russian war propaganda and actively support the Russian government’s imperialistic totalitarian policy. About 71% of the Russian population (Russian state-affiliated polling agencies) and more than 50% (independent poll on the eve of the war against Ukraine) support Putin’s aggressive policy (https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-war-support-putin-analysis/31749491.html).
Russian librarians – the majority of them – are an integral part of the Russian military and totalitarian propaganda machine. To a great extent, they are responsible for brainwashing the Russian people and spreading disinformation and manipulation. Libraries in Russia are ideological institutions; their aim is propaganda and government policy support. They do not pursue the democratic values of the library profession but devotedly serve Putin’s war machine.
We call on IFLA to ban all relations with Russian librarians and library associations. One may argue that the system in Russia is cruel, or that Russian librarians are afraid to speak out loud. Do not be naïve: many Russian libraries and librarians, in the midst of the predatory inhuman campaign and its supporting slogans in Russia, continue calling on their readers-citizens of Russia to support Putin’s aggressive policy, to destroy Ukraine, and to kill Ukrainians. Russian librarians are not silent. They have demonstrated their position in 2014 when directors of the leading Russian libraries signed the letter of support of Putin’s policy to occupy Crimea. Russian librarians continued to hold and participate in the Crimean Library Conference in occupied (by Russia) Crimea. At the end of February 2022, when the war against Ukraine had already started, the Russian Library Association posted an invitation to participate in the Crimean Conference this June. Who forced librarians to do this — to hold a conference on the occupied territory and to post the invitation?
A Russian librarian from Saint Petersburg active in IFLA, only a few days ago, sent a message to the IFLA listserv with the manipulation that the world bans Russians because they are Russians. No, the world bans Russians and Russian institutions because they support the cruel Russian regime and the war against Ukraine.
We do not have complete data on the number of libraries destroyed and librarians killed by Russian invaders – it is impossible to collect data under constant fire, shelling, and bombing. We know that thousands of civilians – users of libraries – were killed and are at great risk now. Kharkiv and Sumy university libraries, Kharkiv Korolenko National Library, a number of libraries in Chernihiv and Kyiv, and dozens of town and village libraries were destroyed and set on fire by Russian invaders.
We are grateful to the library community of Europe and the whole world who condemn the Russian aggression and support Ukraine. We are confident that it is not enough just to call for peace. It is time to defend justice, democratic values, human lives, and cultural heritage. It is time to call out all those who support the criminal war of conquest and to suspend all cooperation with them.