Surviving Autocracy: Lessons from Russian Writers
“Russia,’’ “Putin,” “influence,’’ and “autocracy” are words that figured in the U.S. national discourse more during the weeks leading up to the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump than in any other time in recent memory. We are still learning how Russia influenced the American election and considering whether a Trump presidency will resemble that of his admired counterpart Vladimir Putin. What will the implications be for free expression, press freedom, and creative diversity in the United States? As we prepare for the answers we fear may emerge, PEN America turned for advice to Russian authors and journalists who have been forced to fight for their independence. We asked: What are your rules for writers to survive in an autocracy?
Their responses, prepared especially for PEN America, are translated from Russian.
Mikhail Shevelev: “Don’t Betray What You Stand For’’
Don’t try to combine journalism with material well-being. Don’t betray what you stand for: gender equality, the rights of the LGBT community and minorities (mostly, аs a rule, Jewish… More