No platform for a terrorist! Statement of PEN Ukraine on Zakhar Prilepin’s participation in the 34th Slovene Book Fair

The organizers of the 34th Slovene Book Fair have made an ill-considered decision to invite to this reputable cultural forum an extremely odious guest – the Russian writer, Zakhar Prilepin, infamous for his openly xenophobic and jingoistic statements and for his overtly criminal participation, along with other mercenaries, in Russian military aggression in Eastern Ukraine. He has never concealed these facts. On the contrary, he has flagrantly disseminated his ‘Kalashnikov’ images and openly called for the ethnic cleansing and extermination of Ukrainians.

Remarkably, the Slovene Book Fair is offering this person a one-hour meeting with Slovene readers and a half-hour book-signing session in Ljubljana; worse, he is being advertised in the Book Fair program as a “Russian classic writer”. The Book Fair’s actions amount to nothing less than whitewashing a terrorist.

If the Book Fair organizers did not know Prilepin’s dark side, it is highly regrettable. If they knew but ignored it, it is absolutely disgusting.

We hope our colleagues from the Slovenian PEN would express their criticism of this scandalous event. We also expect some reaction from the “Writers for Peace” Committee of the PEN International headed currently by the renowned Slovene writer, Marjan Strojan.

There should be a red line for people who support a military aggression, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

Mykola Riabchuk, president

Andrei Kurkov, vice president