André Glucksmann Speaks on Human Rights in Russia

glucksman.jpgOn Oct. 25, French philosopher and renowned political commentator André Glucksmann published an article in Le Monde of great importance to us entitled “Sakharov-Khodorkovsky: Same Fight.” Then on Oct. 29, we were pleased to have Mr. Glucksmann as a guest speaker during the concert for human rights held by the Association of Art in Support of Civil Liberties, which also featured speeches by Grigory Pasko, Karinna Moskalenko and many other distinguished guests. We hope to post audio recordings of the speeches soon, but for now, after the jump is the English text of Glucksmann’s comments.

André Glucksmann, Salle Adyar, Paris – Oct. 29, 2007 I will be very brief because what matters here is the direct testimony of those who have been oppressed and whom we will hear in a moment.I want to say two things:The first concerns what is currently happening in Russia, the different methods of intimidation. There is no mass repression, except in Chechnya, where they intimidate a very small people to make them an example to tell others — the Russian people – that this is what happens when you disobey the Kremlin’s orders. It is an absolutely awful example, when you think of Picasso who painted “Guernica.” Well no one has painted Grozny because it is not “paintable” as an event. Grozny, with 450 000 inhabitants, is the first city to have been destroyed by a European army since Warsaw in 1944.But the cruelty is not always of such an immense scale. They also do the same thing to individuals. They take a businessman and make him an example, or a journalist, or a former KGB agent. Think of the one they killed in broad daylight and in absolutely atrocious conditions in London. What is their purpose? To systematically intimidate those who could talk, reason, or tell the truth in Russia. So, journalists, think of Anna Politkovskaya, ex-KGB agents, you saw Litvinenko and capitalists, oligarchs, think of MBK in Siberia, if he expects to get out, he will be prosecuted again, that way it will be clear that he must stay in jail.This is the method of intimidation they are using. And, in a way, it is a success because terrible things have been happening in Russia for more than 70 years. People have old fearful reflexes that are revived each time there is a qualitative attack.Look at the example of [Mikhail] Trepashkin, the lawyer investigating the deaths of 300 people in the Moscow apartment bombings that would become the pretext, the alibi, for the second Chechen war. Trepashkin, who used to work for the FSB, is in jail with severe tuberculosis. It is this kind of qualitative attack that is used in an attempt to stifle civil society.So what should we do about it? We must not keep quiet, or forget, but explain.This evening is a very good thing, and what the Paris municipality is doing is very positive. It would be even better if Paris could name a street after Politkovskaya, if possible in the 16th district, next to a certain embassy (laughter).I also think there are people who are lonely in this world and I am going to talk about Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He is an oligarch, so he is a rich man and rich men and writers don’t always go together, but he is much more than that: one must understand what Memorial and other associations defending individual liberties in Russia are saying: he is a prisoner of conscience, like they say in Russia, that is to say a political prisoner.I will take Sakharov’s example, the creator of the Russian bomb. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the creator of the biggest Russian oil company and it is the same problem. He should have given in, or left Russia and settled down in London, but he did not. Why not? Not because he is stupid, on the contrary, he is very intelligent. Not because he did not know, everybody knew in Russia. So why? He found that it was worth the sentence he might get. There are people who consider that freedom is more important than life and if I compare Khodorkovsky to Sakharov, it is because if Khodorkovsky had won his trial, there would be neither oil black-mail, nor power cuts for Ukrainians and Georgians. Because, nowadays, the dissuasive weapon in Russia is gas and oil.In that field, Khodorkovsky tried to install transparency as a general rule in a relatively democratic civilization. Like Sakharov, he fought against the dissuasive power of Russia. He is left alone and this proves not the dryness of our hearts but the poor size of our brains: we have not seen the importance of it. One must realize that liberty, human rights and freedom of speech for the people in relatively free media are absolutely essential because Russia is the second nuclear power, the second arms dealer in the world and the energy power that currently rules over Europe.Therefore, the fight for conscience in Russia is not idealism, it is a fight for peace, safety for our children because at the borders of the European Union a kind of rising power exists that is not controlled from the inside and that no one is trying to control from the outside.You must understand that it does not only concern the Russians and the Chechens but also our own children. Thank you.