Conflicts & War

Activists tell LatAm countries ‘impossible to be neutral’ in Ukraine war

By Alejandro Prieto

Montevideo, Mar 14 (EFE).- Latin American nations, though far from the suffering on the battlefield, must not remain neutral on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prominent Russian journalist Kirill Martynov and member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization Memorial Pavel Andreev have said.

Martynov, chief editor of Novaya Gazeta Europe, and the former political editor of the now shuttered Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize and Andreev, a representative of Memorial, which won the coveted award last year, called for an immediate end to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

“I think in a pragmatic sense, it will be harder to push South American and Latin American governments to open support of Ukraine for economical reasons, because the region is far away from the battlefield and you didn’t see all this pain and refugees,” Martynov, exiled to Latvia, told Efe during a visit to Uruguay.

“I think we need to provide more arguments which will show that it’s impossible to be neutral in this situation,” he added.

“If we don’t want the 21st century to be a new era of wars and violence across the world we need to stop Russian aggression right now.”

Founded in 1987, during the Soviet Union’s reformist perestroika years, Memorial became Russia’s leading human rights NGO, at first focusing on documenting the victims of Stalin’s regime but later branching out to gather information about other crimes, such as those committed during the war in Chechnya.

Andreev, a board member of Memorial, which was dissolved by Russia’s courts in 2021 for breaching the country’s controversial foreign agents laws, said it was hard to take lessons from history to understand the decision by Russian president Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

“Unfortunately talking about history became one of the arguments of Putin for doing what he’s doing,” he told Efe. “And that’s why even if we study history the most (important) lesson that we can learn is that a political decision shouldn’t be explained by historical reasons.”

Andreev added: “Of course in the history of every nation we can find things that are pro some idea or against it but the most important thing is to understand the life of people is the biggest value.

“What we have been struggling for all these years is that people’s dignity and lives are the most important thing and you cannot use your people to attack others or to get into history by killing other people.”

After a year of war that has displaced millions and killed over 8,000, the outlook for Russia’s opposition voices is bleak.

But there is hope, said Andreev, and it lies in the gulf between the Kremlin and the Russian people.

“People in Russia didn’t vote for the war, they didn’t vote for what Putin is doing, and I think the majority of the population honestly doesn’t support what’s going on,” he added.

Martynov highlights his own beacons of hope for the future.

“The first reason to have one is the bravery of the Ukrainian people, and the second

reason is a lot of solidarity we received this year from different people, different organizations.

“Another reason to have hope is the young generation of Russian people. I was a

university teacher and I know pretty well that we have brilliant young people,” he concluded.EFE


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