Ordinary people in Russia and Ukraine shouldn’t be blamed for the conflict, Paulo Coelho has said
Best-selling Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho has spoken out against the rise of Russophobia in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
The world-famous author of ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Eleven Minutes’ took to Twitter on Friday to point out that the “Ukraine crisis” has become a “convenient excuse for Russophobia.”
Numerous Russian nationals living abroad have faced widespread abuse since Moscow decided to send troops into its neighboring country in late February in order to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the Kiev government, and to prevent what it called the “genocide” perpetrated by Ukraine against civilians in the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Aggressive actions against Russians have gone far beyond offensive comments posted on social media.
The victims, who talked to RT Russian earlier this week, recalled a number of such incidents in recent days. Among other things, they spoke about a swastika allegedly being drawn on an Orthodox church in Iceland, Russian kids brawling with their Norwegian classmates, a Russian woman being denied service at a restaurant in New Zealand, and a musician being fired from a Dutch orchestra because of her origin.
Coelho also faced a lot of heat over his message, as social-media users demanded that he condemn the Russian offensive like many other international celebrities. He was also grilled for the use of the word “crisis,” with his critics insisting he should have called the events in Ukraine “an unprovoked, unjustified war.”
In his response to the comments, the writer, who has sold millions of books in both Russia and Ukraine, made it clear that he knows a lot more about the two countries than they did.
“I was in Lviv, Kyiv, Odessa, Yalta, Chernobyl (Ukraine). I covered 10,000km by train from Moscow to Vladivostok (Russia). Yes, there is a war: But do not blame ordinary people,” he said.
Earlier this week, Moscow blocked Facebook and Instagram over “extremism” after media reported that Meta, which owns both platforms, allowed “posts on the Ukraine war calling for violence against invading Russians or [for Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s death.”
The international clampdown on Russia has also affected the country’s athletes in numerous disciplines, who were banned from international competitions, and such world famous musicians as Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko, who lost their jobs in Germany.
The trend took some ridiculous forms like an Italian university dropping a course on the works of iconic 19th-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky from its curriculum, and Russian cats and dogs being barred from taking part in exhibitions abroad.