Russian activists oppose holding 2018 Football World Cup in Russia
Cartoon by Marian Kamensky
January 19, 2016
30 Russian pro-democracy activists and journalists have signed an open letter calling on FIFA not to hold the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia, because of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and his administration’s repressive policies towards its own population.
If the 2018 World Cup is nevertheless held in Russia, the signatories call on national football teams to boycott the event.
SAY NO TO 2018 FOOTBALL WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA
We call on FIFA to take the 2018 World Cup away from Russia and give it to another, more appropriate host country; or if this is not done, we call on participating teams to boycott the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia just as countries, teams and individual sportsmen and women boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in the Soviet Union.
The reason for our campaign is, above all, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. This illegal action has resulted in the deaths of over 9, 000 people and turned 1.4 million into Internally Displaced Persons. President Vladimir Putin’s actions during this violation of international law and international agreements also included supplying the Buk missile system used to shoot down flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
In addition, Putin has imprisoned a large number of innocent people in connection with his war in Ukraine, and continues to do so. Among the most prominent are Ukrainian pilot NADIA SAVCHENKO (kidnapped and put on trial in Russia), Ukrainian film director OLEG SENTSOV (sentenced to 20 years in prison) and Russian activist ILDAR DADIN (sentenced to three years in prison).
In Crimea and the Russian-occupied areas of eastern Ukraine human rights abuses are rampant.
Crimean Tatar leader MUSTAFA DZHEMILEV, - the nation’s Gandhi or Nelson Mandela - was deported by Stalin as a baby and later imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag. Since 2014 he has been banned by Russia from returning to his homeland.
Under these circumstances we believe it is wholly inappropriate for football players, fans and sponsors to legitimise Putin’s actions in Ukraine by participating in a World Cup tournament held in Russia. Until Crimea is returned to Ukraineand Russia starts adhering to its own constitution and international law strictly and unconditionally, Russia should be excluded from hosting this and any other such international events.
Sergei Anisiforov, Irina Belachew, Alexandra Bukvareva, Alexander Byvshev, Svetlana Davydova, Igor Dmitriev, Konstantin Golava, Dmitri Kipiani, Darya Kostromina, Vladimir Kozhemiakov, Mikhail Kriger, Yekaterina Makarevich, Yekaterina Maldon, Yelena Malko, Boris Mamatov, Ilja Mjaskovskij, Eduard Molchanov, Valery Otstavnykh, Alexander Podrabinek, Oleg Pshenichny, Nina Rostovskaya, Pavel Shekhtman, Alexey Shmatko, Vladimir Shreydler, Alex Sinodov, Emil Terekhin, Andrey Teslenko, Denis Tsarev, Vyacheslav Yegorov, Anastasia Zotova
· SERGEI ANISIFOROV – actor; supported Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and has moved to Ukraine
· IRINA BELACHEW – activist; supported Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and has moved to Ukraine
· ALEXANDRA BUKVAREVA – human rights lawyer from Moscow
· ALEXANDER BYVSHEV – teacher and poet from Russia’s Oryol Region; convicted of “extremism” for his poems in support of Ukraine, banned from teaching and sentenced to six months’ community service
· SVETLANA DAVYDOVA – mother of seven children from the Smolensk Region in Russia; charged with treason and imprisoned for warning the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow that Russian troops had [were being] deployed to Ukraine
· IGOR DMITRIEV – journalist and political analyst; supported Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and has moved to Ukraine
· KONSTANTIN GOLAVA – LGBT activist; attacked and persecuted in Russia, now claiming asylum in Sweden
· DMITRI KIPIANI – journalist and activist in Moscow
· VLADIMIR KOZHEMIAKOV – artist in France
· DARYA KOSTROMINA – activist in Moscow
· MIKHAIL KRIGER – activist in Moscow; spent 15 days in prison in 2015 for protesting in support of opposition leaders Alexei and Oleg Navalny
· YEKATERINA MAKAREVICH – journalist from Moscow who has moved to Ukraine
· YEKATERINA MALDON – activist detained in Moscow many times in 2014 for her protests in support of Ukraine; she has moved to Germany
· YELENA MALKO – activist in Moscow
· BORIS MAMATOV – lawyer in Moscow who represents activists
· ILJA MJASKOVSKIJ – history teacher and activist in Nizhny Novgorod
· EDUARD MOLCHANOV – Soviet-era dissident, journalist and present-day activist in Moscow
· VALERY OTSTAVNYKH – journalist and activist from Russia’s Tula Region
· ALEXANDER PODRABINEK – Soviet-era dissident, journalist and present-day activist in Moscow
· OLEG PSHENICHNY – journalist with banned news website Grani.ru in Moscow
· NINA ROSTOVSKAYA – journalist and activist in Moscow
· PAVEL SHEKHTMAN – activist who escaped from house arrest in Moscow after being prosecuted for a Facebook post; presently claiming asylum in Ukraine
· ALEXEY SHMATKO – businessman from the Penza Region who was arrested by the FSB; is currently claiming asylum in the UK
· VLADIMIR SHREYDLER – human rights lawyer and journalist in Moscow
· ALEX SINODOV – university English teacher and activist in Moscow
· EMIL TEREKHIN – activist from Moscow who has moved to Ukraine
· ANDREY TESLENKO – activist from the Altai Region (Siberia); moved to the USA after being prosecuted for criticising the authorities
· DENIS TSAREV – activist in Canada
· VYACHESLAV YEGOROV – journalist and activist from Moscow Region
· ANASTASIA ZOTOVA – journalist and fiancee of political prisoner Ildar Dadin, who was sentenced to three years in prison for protesting peacefully in support of Ukraine
“I would be sorry to take this fantastic event away from my fellow countrymen, ” says Nizhny Novgorod-based history teacher and activist ILJA MJASKOVSKIJ: “but I hate to imagine it being held in such a terrible self-aggrandizing and brash way.”
Press contacts: Dmitri Kipiani (Russia)
Sarah Hurst (UK)
Campaign page: https://www.facebook.com/events/805982976215259/