Numerous Russian SFF Writers Support Ukraine Invasion in Open Letter

“Stars Over Donbass” logo.

Sergey Lukianenko1, a guest of honor of the 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu, heads the list of eighty organizers of the “Stars Over Donbass” literary festival who have signed an “Open Appeal” supporting Russia’s military action in the Ukraine.

Russian sff author Lukianenko attended the inaugural event held in Donbass in 2019, an oblast of Ukraine that was recognized as an independent republic by Russia in February. A report at the time by the Analytical Service of Donbass, a Russian-language website, also named five other prominent writers, Andrei Lazarchuk, Alexander Pelevin, Evgeny Lukin, Vitaly Pishchenko and Alexey Mashtakov, who all are signers of the “Open Appeal” posted yesterday.    

Borys Sydiuk, an internationally-known Ukranian sff fan, called out the “misanthropic document” on Facebook, urging his readers “to ban these people who support the genocide of the Ukrainian people: please, don’t issue visas to them, don’t publish them, don’t invite them to cultural events.”

The full text of the letter translated into English including the names of the signers follows the jump.


Bandits, armed with Nazi ideology, have been killing our compatriots for eight years, killing women, elderly people and children in Donbass.

For three years in a row, we organize an international literary forum “Stars over Donbass” in front-line Donetsk. We witness with our own eyes what the 21st century Nazism is – broken houses, destroyed neighborhoods, graves of Donbass residents who died because of Ukrainian punishers. We wipe away tears, looking at the names of the children in the Avenue of Angels.

Forget? Never.

Forgive? Impossible.

In this difficult time of trial, when an aggressive information war began, we cannot stand aside. There are millions of our readers with us, including those who are now carrying out their military duty with arms in their hands.

We support our army, which acts as clearly, professionally and selflessly as possible. We support  our Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who launched a special operation to denazify and demilitarize the state of Ukraine.

Retribution will surely come to those who allowed the militarization of Ukraine. Without it, its return to a normal, creative life is impossible. And we have no doubt that it will be done.

  • Sergey Lukyanenko
  • Roman Zlotnikov
  • Oleg Divov
  • Vadim Panov
  • Andrey Lazarchuk
  • Evgeny Lukin
  • Evgeny Schepetnov
  • Maria Semyonova
  • Mikhail Atamanov
  • Alexey Abramov
  • Irina Andronati
  • Viktor Artamonov
  • Dmitry Baikalov
  • Victoria Balashova
  • Ksenia Bashtovaya
  • Andrey Belyanin
  • Dmitry Belov
  • Kirill Benediktov
  • Fedor Berezin
  • Svetlana Bondarenko
  • Yuri Burnosov
  • Vladimir Vasiliev
  • Sergey Volkov
  • Maria Volkova
  • Evgeny Garkushev
  • Tatiana Glushchenko
  • Alexey Gravitsky
  • Anna Derbeneva
  • Anna Dolgareva
  • Alexey Evtushenko
  • Ludmila Evtushenko
  • Andrey Ermolaev
  • Vitaly Zabirko
  • Andrey Zemskov
  • Elena Bazzaeva
  • Iar Elterrus (Yehuda Ben Yosef)
  • Pavel Ievlev
  • Dmitry Kazakov
  • Vyacheslav Kovalev
  • Alexander Kontorovich
  • Alexander Kofman
  • Petr Kulakov
  • Dmitry Lazarev
  • Darina Lysakova
  • Andrey Martyanov
  • Nadezhda Maslova
  • Anna Matveenko
  • Alexey Mashtakov
  • Denis Murashkevich
  • Ivan Naumov
  • Karina Pavlyuchkova
  • Olga Pasko
  • Anton Pervushin
  • Elena Pervushina
  • Vitaly Pishchenko
  • Katerina Polevodova
  • Anna Revyakina
  • Alexander Rudazov
  • Vladislav Rusanov
  • Mikhail Savelichev
  • Faina Savenkova
  • Georgy Savitsky
  • Anton Sviridenko
  • Taisiya Sevryukova
  • Svetlana Sevryukova
  • Andrey Sinitsyn
  • Sergei Slyusarenko
  • Tatiana Stolyarova
  • Kirill Sudakov
  • Zlata Tebieva
  • Mikhail Tyrin
  • Elena Khaetskaya
  • Sergey Chekmaev
  • Max Cherepanov
  • Sergey Shilov
  • Julia Andreeva
  • Alexander Peterson
  • Andrey Zemlyanoy
  • Yuri Mori
  • Mikhail Afonin

[Thanks to SF2 Concatenation and Jonathan Cowie for the story.]

1 The spelling of Lukianenko here follows the usage of the author’s official site. However, his name is commonly translated on Amazon and in news articles as Lukyanenko.

51 thoughts on “Numerous Russian SFF Writers Support Ukraine Invasion in Open Letter

  1. I don’t have words strong enough to express my nausea and sorrow.

  2. If they had a chance to get my attention before, they won’t get another one.

  3. I wonder if every name that was added to the list of signatories, was actually added by that person.

    And how many of them did so out of sincere support for the war.

  4. While I share everyone’s disappointment, consider the possibility that not signing may not have been an option.

  5. @Ja:

    As far as I know, Lukianenko is still listed as a guest of honor of the Chengdu Worldcon. I recommend that any who have concerns about his suitability as a worldcon guest reach out to the con in a factual and corteous manner.

  6. sfp476: Do you think people should only avoid putting their names on a letter like this when it costs them nothing?

    Do you think the people running the 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu have an option to drop Lukianenko as a GoH?

  7. @Ja–

    I trust he’s been disinvited?

    No one outside of China has a say in that. The Chengdu WorldCon committee runs the Chengdu WorldCon, including inviting or disinviting guests. And the Chengdu committee doesn’t have a lot of the kind of close ties with international fandom that would make the kind of social influence from foreign fans effective in ways that would make disinviting Sergey Lukyanenko look like an important thing to do, given that China’s view of invasion of Ukraine isn’t the same as the western view. It might even seem like a poor idea, potentially annoying government officials who support the official policy.

    And while individual fans who do have contacts in Chinese fandom can talk to them about it, there’s nothing WSFS can do about it directly.

  8. sfp476 on March 1, 2022 at 1:48 pm said:
    While I share everyone’s disappointment, consider the possibility that not signing may not have been an option.

    Plenty of Russian artists have opposed the war.

    Provocative Moscow-based rave band Little Big, for example. They made their position pretty darned clear.

    Now Lukayenko is notorious for his anti-Ukraine views. So this statement lines up with his previously expressed beliefs. He has banned translating his books into Ukrainian, and in 2014 said “There is no country such as Ukraine, and never shall be“.

    On his Facebook on Friday and Saturday (It looks like he’s since deleted his FB account), he expressed that civilians shouldn’t be out on the streets of Ukraine, and that they only had themselves to blame if they got shot. When someone on his FB wall said that she was worried for her son who lives in Ukraine, he responded that “he’s probably a Nz like you.”

  9. I knew that the Russian author who is a writer guest of honor at Worldcon next year supported Russia’s invasion of Georgia (Not the one with Atlanta as its capital) so I am not surprised. Now as for Robert Sawyer, that is a different question.

  10. Somehow, I expected something like this. It’s all so very Russian. Of course, all those authors made pro-Putin, pro-invasion noises. If they don’t, they risk getting sent to Siberia. This has always happened, going back to Peter the Great. Not just Brezhnev, Stalin, et. al., the tsars were very fond of this way of silencing the opposition. The only reason Ivan the Terrible never sent his enemies, real or imagined, to Siberia was that Muscovy hadn’t muscled into Siberia yet when he was on the throne.

    Counter-example: I recall when, around 1968 or thereabouts, two groups of mostly American SF/F authors published statements in (I think it was) Frederik Pohl’s Galaxy magazine either endorsing or condemning the war in Vietnam. The name lists were about equal in length. You’d never see that in Russia (modern or USSR) or China.

    As for getting the Chengdu WorldCon to dump their noisome Pro GoH, ain’t gonna happen. Xi is quite fond of Putin. That means no Chinese citizen who values what little freedom they have will cross Xi or his government.

  11. Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson: I don’t agree with your preemptive apology for these writers. You have no information whether they even disagree with the statement. Lukianenko wholeheartedly agrees with it — he has a long track record of comparable statements.

  12. Many thousandso of Russians are actively protesting in the streets against this invasion. Sergey Lukyanenko has made statements in support of Russian aggression in Georgia and Crimea previously. “Stars Over Donbass” is by its name and activities a promotion of Russian cultural dominance over Ukrainian culture. That’s a choice.

    I’m open to evidence that this statement is inconsistent with prior statements or comments of any or all of the other writers, but I have no reason to assume, in the absence of evidence, that they don’t agree with the content of the letter.

  13. Probably why only a Pole could write something like this:

    “And so, standing on opposite hilltops, their weapons sparkling in the sun, while the drums contined to roll, the two armies smiled at one another. Trurl and Klapaucius were just then boarding their ship, since that which they had planned had come to pass: before the eyes of their mortified, infuriated rulers, both armies went off hand in hand, picking flowers beneath the fluffy white clouds, on the field of the battle that never was.”

  14. Chengdu is finding out that the symbol that is usually translated “You have won a Worldcon bid” can also be translated “You have been cursed.”

  15. Troyce: Chengdu is finding out that the symbol that is usually translated “You have won a Worldcon bid” can also be translated “You have been cursed.”

    I doubt very much that anyone on the Chengdu bid cares about what SFF fans in other countries think about their Writer Guest of Honor. They will be able to sell plenty of memberships to Chinese fans and do not need people from other countries to attend. A protest or boycott by fans from other countries will have exactly zero effect on them.

  16. I know it’s more difficult for non-Anglophone than Anglophone writers to gain membership in SFWA, but it’s certainly not impossible. Are any of these writers SFWA members, and if so, would their conduct in this matter be grounds for expelling them?

  17. @Mike Glyer: Mike, I didn’t intend it as a “preemptive apology.” I was simply stating the way things too often are in Russia (or any other authoritarian oligarchy/autocracy). If you know what is good for you, you agree with the top guy(s). Or else it’s the gulag or a bullet in the head. Too often, this leads to agreeing with your heart as well as your mouth–I suspect that most of the writers on that list agree with Lukyanenko. Putin’s Russia looks as bad as anything under the USSR, with the possible exception of Stalin at his worst. Successful dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were few and far between.

    @Troyce: About “you are cursed,” how true! I still recall being in the room, first in Phoenix in 1976 and then in Denver in 1979, when the long-distance call came through from someone onsite from the bidding committees announcing that we’d won the Worldcon site selection. Both times, someone locally prominent and respected said, “Oh, shit.”

  18. Some additional background on anti-Ukrainian or imperialistic themes in modern Russian science fiction: Post-Soviet science fiction and the war in Ukraine—published in 2016. Both Lukianenko and Ferezin (signatories of the open appeal) are mentioned as important contributors to this trend.

    This trend is sadly not unique to Russia. I was struck with the parallels to the strand of American science fiction that is shown by writers like Michael Z. Williamson, John Ringo, or Theodore Beale.

  19. Well, that’s disappointing, considering how many Russian artists in other media have condemned the invasion.

  20. Russian propaganda is as bad and racist as American. I’m happy to ban everyone who has supported an offensive war from being a GoH, may the war have been Russian, French, American or Israeli.

    Will R:

    Your quote reminded me of Vysotskij’s “No Man’s Land”.

  21. We may not be able to influence the Chengdu committee (and certainly not the Chinese “government”), but we should at least let those we might have some influence over know that we do not approve of their support of an event that is now beginning (by proxy anyway) to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and is also offering cover for wide scale genocide by the Chinese government.

  22. Glad to see that prominent Russian SF author Dmitry Glukhovsky has publicly condemned the invasion and asked for peace.

    His Metro series of post-apocalyptic novels have been adapted into a trilogy of mega-selling video games (Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light and Metro: Exodus) by a Ukrainian-based developer, 4A Games. They actually moved a lot of their development from Kyiv to Sliema in Malta a few years ago, but they still have a satellite studio in Kyiv.

  23. it is hard for me to imagine that the Chengdu committee wasn’t already fully aware of Lukianenko’s politics, which others here have already noted, when they made him GoH.

  24. I’d like to thank the above named authors for making my reading list that much shorter. I have limited time to read, and do not wish to spend it on fascist warmongers and their enablers.

  25. Are any of the pro-war signatories from that 1968 Galaxy thing still alive, and if so can they be sanctioned?

  26. As far as I know, all of the 1968 pre-war signers are gone, though a few of the anti-war signatories are still alive and one comments on this very blog on occasion.

    That said, you’re very welcome to boycott Heinlein.

  27. Refering to the quote from Stanislaw Lem:
    Notable, that Lem was born in Lwów, interwar Poland, but now Lviv, Ukraine and under bombing (at least a few days ago)

  28. @ Baerbel: That’s a great point. I wonder about the contribution of territorial back-and-forths to Lem’s emphasis on liminality. It’s something I imagine I see in a lot of Polish art.

  29. Mike: I think that the Russian government has the power to make the cost of speaking out very very high. I applaud the people in Russia who are speaking out: they are braver than most people in the West will ever need to be.

    I don’t know whether the con organizers in Chengdu have the option to disinvite Lukianenko. If the Chinese authorities have chosen to take an interest, they may very well not.

  30. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 3/2/22 This Scroll Obscures My View Of Pixels | File 770

  31. @Jake: Looking over the Pro-Vietnam signatories (neither page was a letter, just a single sentence statement), I see at least four people who are still alive.

    It looks like there are also four from the anti-war side still alive.

    The actual statements were: “We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country.” and “We oppose the participation of the United States in the war in Vietnam.”

  32. @Adam Whitehead:

    Glukhovsky sounds like an excellent replacement for Lukianenko, if the Chengdu Worldcon chooses to go that route.

    @RH: They were probably as aware as Discon was about Toni Weisskopf’s politics back when they selected her. Simply having odious or prejudiced political opinions should not disqualify someone from being a GoH at a con. But having those opinions actively involved in a coup against the lawful government, or in a full-blown war of aggression, pushes things from “really disappointing” to “hell no”.

  33. It is pretty much inconceivable that the Discon bidding committee that selected Toni Weiskolf as a GOH was unaware of her politics. She and Jim Baen (to whom she was married) were famously conservative. And I would like to beleive that she wasn’t disinvited on the basis of those conservative politics (which are certainly not mine but are legitimate), but because of issues raised over the fact that some Far Rightwingers (Not Toni herself) were posting support of the January 6th insurrection on a Baen Board and Toni wouldn’t do what the ConCom wanted her to do about that. (which I think was ban those posters from the boards, though the Con never did make that completely clear.) So while her situation wasn’t really comparable to that of Lukayenko, one has to say that if her failing merited being disinvited, his most certainly also does. But we all know that isn’t going to happen.

  34. Lukyanenko used to be a talented and deservedly popular writer (I wonder how his publishers throughout Europe are going to respond), but pan-Russian nationalism of increasingly anti-western slant had been permeating his work at least since the turn of the century. (Remember, he was born in Kazakhstan and moved to Moscow only after the Soviet Union’s breakup.) I must confess I missed, or didn’t remember, his support to the Donbass insurgents.

    As for the Worldcon… well, we are certainly living in interesting times 🙁

  35. Cora Buhlert: “As far as I know, all of the 1968 pre-war signers are gone,”

    Of the “we should stay” signers, Elinor Busby is still alive, as is Hank Davis, who still works at Baen Books as an editor, last I looked, and who has a string of books he edited in print from them. Larry Niven is, of course, also still alive, and still active, and in print.

    I count at leave six anti-war signers still alive: Peter S. Beagle, Samuel R. Delany, Barry Malzberg, Alexei Panshin, Robert Silverberg, and Norman Spinrad.

    It’s remarkable how many on either list only died in the last two years or four years.

  36. Gary Farber: Thanks for sharing those findings. I was curious. Jon De Cles, one of the antiwar signers, is still with us, too. Ask me how I know.

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