PEN Canada announces an event with Andrii Kurkov and Masha Gessen, Ukrainian writers respond

PEN Canada announces an event with Andrii Kurkov and Masha Gessen, Ukrainian writers respond

PEN Canada has announced an event with Ukrainian writer Andrii Kurkov and Russian-American writer Masha Gessen. The announcement was criticised by Ukrainian writers, including Artem Chekh.

Suspilne Kultura reported this, citing Artem Chekh's page.

Andrii Kurkov, the former president of the PEN Ukraine, is to speak with Masha Gessen in a discussion about Russia's war against Ukraine, "Notes on the Invasion," during the Toronto International Festival of Authors. Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is the third participant in the event.

Ukrainian writer and military man Artem Chekh criticised Kurkov's participation in the discussion. 

"He will probably say many correct and trivial things about Ukraine. But it will all reek of the Russian context and swampy mud. From now on, everything that Andrii Yuriiovych says on international platforms will seem dishonest and wrong to me," he commented on his personal Facebook page.

Andrii Kurkov said that Ukraine should not deprive itself of its voice and allow it to be discussed without the participation of Ukrainians. 

"I decided to participate in the conversation with Masha Gessen not because they are an American citizen and write in English. But in order for the voice of Ukraine to be heard on one of the main stages of Toronto. It is thanks to the fact that we will be performing there together that the voice of America of Russian origin and the voice of Ukraine will be heard there. Everyone has their own way to help so that Ukraine can win," he commented on his decision.

It will be recalled that in May, writers and soldiers Artem Chekh and Artem Chapai were to take part in the World Voices festival in the United States. A few days before the event, another event about peace with the participation of Russians appeared in the programme. Masha Gessen was one of the announced participants. The Ukrainians refused to participate in the programme because such events and dialogue formats were unacceptable to them. The festival cancelled the event with the participation of Russians, and Gessen accused Ukrainians of "blackmailing."