Russian sff author Sergei Lukianenko1, selected by the Chengdu 2023 Worldcon as a guest of honor, has been busy in February extending his track record as an apologist for Russian policy toward the Ukraine. This includes a recent interview where he tries to blame the West, and the U.S. in particular, for Russia being “forced to intervene” there.
The author was asked about the crisis by an interviewer from the Russian-language EurAsia Daily (a product of the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative U.S.-based think tank with a board composed of Trump Administration veterans and CPAC speakers) for an article published February 5 with a headline that translates as: “The United States is trying to push Kiev against Moscow militarily: an interview with Sergei Lukyanenko”. (Via Google Translate.)
The famous Russian science fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko was very excited when Crimea returned to Russia. Moreover, in his early works, this topic repeatedly surfaced. True, the science fiction writer described in his books a real, bloody war between Russia and Ukraine, which he managed to avoid. What he is sincerely happy about. But how to turn things around now, when the situation is tense to the limit?
A Russian writer who is visiting Yerevan in an interview with EADaily said that even now the war can be avoided, although today the situation is more explosive and there is a very active attempt by certain forces and circles, very far from both Russia and Ukraine, to arrange a military conflict. But, as Lukyanenko emphasized, Russian President Vladimir Putin confidently takes the blow.
– Do you think Ukraine needs it, Kiev really wants and, most importantly, is ready for war?
– Moscow does not need a war, I am sure that Ukraine does not need it either. But you need to understand that in Ukraine itself the situation has reached a certain point: the West does not want to sponsor it, and it is not even going to develop it, because the West never creates competitors for itself. Ukraine has always been important for the Western world as a kind of anti-Russia, a springboard against Russia and a source of its problems and headaches. And now they are trying to push Kiev against Moscow militarily, for example, by starting another conflict in the Donbass, where Russia will be forced to intervene. Because, besides the fact that there are many of our citizens there, no one in Russia itself will understand when the cleansing operations will begin there, and we will not intervene. Yes, this is not a military danger for Russia, but it will be a great reason to impose all sorts of sanctions on it to the very top. While we are trying to dodge this dubious honor – we are for peace, we do not need it. But will it succeed? Hope so.
— Sergey Vasilyevich, there is also an opinion that, in fact, the goal of the United States is not so much Russia as Europe, namely, to stuff it with American military bases and control it.
– Europe is one of the competitors of the USA, and the United States has huge problems – internal, political, social, economic. Now the United States is at risk of losing the status of the greatest economic power – China has already ousted them from this Olympus. Therefore, yes, the United States needs someone who can be both taxed and robbed, thus breathing new strength into itself. Russia was clearly planned for this role, but it doesn’t work out: it turned out that it was too dangerous to touch us. China is also not suitable for this role, the European Union remains, which is still under them. So yes, it is quite possible that the purpose of the conflict in Ukraine is to completely quarrel Russia with Europe, and to draw as much juice out of it as possible….
To leave no doubt where EA Daily is coming from, a sidebar survey asks readers, “Do you support the operation of the Russian Armed Forces to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine?”
Lukianenko’s first Facebook post since the war started, dated February 23, does not even hint at any opposition to the invasion, but rather praises Putin’s government for allowing protesters. Following a series of remarks about dissent during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, the First World War, and the Great Patriotic War (WWII), he says:
…Russia is a unique country. Only we can curse our army during the war, oppose the authorities – and at the same time calmly walk the streets, receive salaries in state institutions and even work in the media and for the defense industry. Do you know any other such country? I don’t. And they say we are bad with democracy.
He has been a go-to source of comment supporting Russian policy toward the Ukraine for some time. In 2014 he gave Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian tabloid, an interview published under the colorful headline, “Sergey Lukyanenko about the events in Ukraine: ‘Forced de-Russification is as much a crime as forced sex reassignment’” where he “explained why he banned the translation of his books into Ukrainian.”
More recently, Lukianenko claimed there is no Ukraine, it was created artificially, in a Q&A posted March 3, 2020 in Ukraina, published by an agency of the Russian government: “Science fiction writer Lukyanenko: Russians deserve to enshrine their status in the Constitution of Russia” (Google translation.)
– How do you feel about the statement of Vladislav Surkov from his interview, which he made immediately after his resignation to the site “Actual Comments”: there is no Ukraine, there is only Ukrainianism? He thereby wanted to say that Ukrainians do not exist, and those who are called “Ukrainians” are in fact one people with Russians. Do you agree with Surkov’s thought?
– I partially agree, because the Ukrainian national identity was formed artificially. It was intensively formed both before the revolution, and by the efforts of outside forces, and after the revolution – thanks to the unintelligent national policy under the communist regime. It was formed at that time. It’s a fact, it’s known.
As a result, we got what we got: a nation that is being created before our eyes. It is actually created by artificially severing ties with the Russian people. If earlier it was part of a single people, now it is a separate people, which is now being formed.
– In 2019, you were in Donetsk, where you took part in the festival of literary fiction “Stars over Donetsk”. Will Sergei Lukyanenko continue his creative cooperation and cultural patronage over the DPR in 2020?
“Donbass is the region that has earned its right to self-determination with its blood. Of course, this is a complex process and a long one. It does not depend on Russian writers or even on ordinary ordinary citizens of Russia, but it seems to me that it is necessary to support the people of Donbass at the cultural and national level.
If any events are held in Donetsk, I, of course, will come to a meeting with my readers. People who gathered in Donetsk for this fantastic event and came to meet with science fiction writers, and not only with me, they were happy and really deeply touched that they are not forgotten, including in such cultural events, which Donbass is largely deprived of.
Donbass, an oblast of Ukraine that was recognized as an independent republic by Russia earlier this week, was paid a visit by the author in 2019. The Analytical Service of Donbass, a Russian-language website that reports on such things as the “criminal-oligarchic regime in power in Ukraine”, covered his appearance — “Sergey Lukyanenko visited Donetsk for the first time” — and how he responded to a question from the audience about his prediction of the war in Donbass.
…Donetsk journalist and cameraman Timur Kolesnik asked about references to the modern Ukrainian state in Lukyanenko’s new novels, where the writer subtly, playing with metaphors, ridicules the Ukrainian so-called jingoistic patriots. The writer noted that it is not for nothing that he was included in the lists of enemies of Ukraine on the scandalous website “Peacemaker”.
Lukianenko has over 40 books published and has received 32 literary awards.
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.
Without Ukraine, Russia would be a much smaller country. (The roots of Russia are in Novgorod and Kyiv. Moscow is centuries younger.)
There is a saying, referring to the two old Russian news outlets: “In ‘Pravda’, there is no izvestia, and in ‘Izvestia’, no pravda”. There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia. How much of either is in Lukianenko? It sounds like he knows where his bread is buttered and wants to keep it well spread.
“the Ukrainian national identity was formed artificially. […] It was formed at that time.”
I had a Ukrainian grandfather, and I now have Ukrainian neighbors. I have Opinions about this statement.
“Amazing. Every word you said was wrong.”
When you really get down to it, most (if not all) national identities were formed artificially. People didn’t pop up in an area like plants. (This is not a Jack Finney novel.) In most cases, they migrated from another area, and they almost always displaced the people who were already there. (Otherwise, we might be living in Neanderville.) Also, nations are not monoliths, though certain people wish they were. Nationalities are not created in a vacuum.
This reminds me of people who complain that “[Random holiday they disapprove of] is a made-up holiday.” Uhm. They’re all made up — because some human beings decided to commemorate something on that date rather than ignoring the date. In many cases, the event did not take place on that actual date. (ahem Christmas ahem) Even if the holiday is set on a specific date, picking that date is an artificial process. Like picking July 4 for Independence Day instead of August 2.
So, this is someone we have no reason to honor. Though it’s no surprise China disagrees.
Lis Carey says So, this is someone we have no reason to honor. Though it’s no surprise China disagrees.
Well let’s not blame the decision of a Worldcon committee on all of China please. That’s like saying that the Best Hugo Novel reflects the cultural taste of Americans in general. As we know not all fans agree on what the proper political bias is.
One of my best friends is Somalian born though now an American. She despises the current government there.
@Cat Eldridge–I’m not blaming the Chinese people. I’m blaming the Chinese government. Not necessarily directly, but the Chinese WorldCon committee couldn’t chose someone unacceptable to the government.
Nobody can ethically participate in any way with a convention that has this man as a guest of honor.
Decline nominations if it comes to that.
If WSFS in the person of DisCon III cancelled Toni Weisskopf, they should immediately cancel this Russian apologist. The question is, will they?
sez walt boyes:
Nope. WSFS has essentially nothing to do with running any Worldcon. It’s rather likely that the people who did run DisCon III would, indeed, “cancel this Russian apologist”, but the DisCon III ConCom has very little in common with the ConCom of the Chengdu Worldcon.
I’ve noted his chauvinism last year, when he only just named GoH for Chenghu, including here, but have anyone heard? He not just turned, he was toxic for years
A fitting GoH for a Worldcon being run by a government that supports and is currently engaged in genocide.
You would think that members of the SF community would be more vocal in objecting.
Sadly and disappointingly, not.
Has Robert J. Sawyer made a statement about sharing a stage with Lukyanenko?
@Michael Burianyk: I imagine he’ll want to be very careful when making any possible statement.
Lukianenko’s praise for the Russian government allowing protests is not looking good. The government has declared unauthorized gatherings illegal and is conducting mass arrests.
WSFS didn’t make that decision to remove Toni Weisskopf as a guest of honor. DisCon III did. Can you explain how you think the WSFS has the ability to remove a Worldcon’s announced guest of honor before the convention took place?
cubist: the DisCon III ConCom has very little in common with the ConCom of the Chengdu Worldcon.
And since the Chinese government regards Lukianenko’s stance as a feature, not a bug, there’s not a chance in hell that the Chengdu concom will remove this GoH, even though they should. 😐
JJ on February 26, 2022 at 6:07 pm said:
I doubt that the Chinese gov’t chose any GoHs, the people, who pushed for Chenghu did. Moreover, I hope that they haven’t known – I tried to inform, but am I to be heard and there are no well-established links between many regional, esp. non-English fandoms? I still hope that he will be removed
I’m afraid that will come to bite Chengdu hard, both while planning and while executing Worldcon. The lack of regular wide-spread contacts with the Anglophone wider conrunning community caused trouble for Helsinki, and those troubles are worse in every aspect I can think of for Chengdu. This includes language skills, personal connections between the local organisers and fans abroad, cultural differences, and various forms of racism and jingoism within the Anglophone fandom.
But I agree that Lukianenko has gone from “problematic” as a GoH to “deeply troubling” with the Russian war against Ukraine.
From their perspective, probably not. If a thousand Chinese fans show up, most Westerners stay home, I’d bet that they spin the convention as a success.
From their perspective, probably not. If a thousand Chinese fans show up, most Westerners stay home, I’d bet that they spin the convention as a success.
Last time I checked, China is not the only nation on Earth with a thriving SF/F fanbase.
Rob Thornton: Your comments reads as a disagreement but I don’t understand how it relates to what he said.
They could achieve four-figure Chinese attendance with a domestic SFF con. Surely they are hoping to attract a significant number of attendees from the rest of the world because of the added publicity and prestige that would bring.
@ Mike Glyer:
I will paraphrase: It is called Worldcon after all.
Sad to hear that he is a putin fanboy. Good thing is that i do have extra room in my bookshelf once i throw his books away…
A dear friend who passed last year came from a family that fled the Hugonaut (sp?) persecutions in France. They went to nice, safe, Russia, where they prospered right up until the Revolution. Then they fled to nice, safe, Germany, where they settled in Dresden. He was a child during the Dresden fire bombing, and all these years later this nice, kind man was plagued by the sounds of the bombing that so terrified him as a child. After that his family fled to America, where he became a librarian and an exemplary, conservative, citizen.
Sometimes when detailing to us the attitudes of German culture, as he knew it from childhood, he would patiently explain to us how Hitler really did have to invade other countries that had once belonged to it, and how the real villains of WWII were Churchill and Roosevelt. The war was really the fault of England and the United States.
Teachers really are the most important, and dangerous, people in any civilization.
first of all, does anybody have some nice pointers for me regarding forums in which things like this are debated under SF fans? I usually read my books completely for myself but I really want to talk about this to others…
I came from german wikipedia to this page. I was really shocked when I learned, that my favourite living author (maybe second favourite, but definetily not below that) made these disgusting and terrible excuses. It does not go in my head how an author who, in my eyes, manages like few others to point out the shades of grey in moral matters and the hypocrasy of ideologies, comes to completely supporting the brutal, unfair and totally uncalled for war of the Putin regime against the Ukraine. Maybe I’m too much of a fanboy, to see the writing on the wall in between the lines of his books…
Then again as far as I understood the article above, all cites came from media with (in my view) questionable political background, to put it nicely. Does anybody know of additional sources on his stance on this matter, maybe interviews from critical fans without strong political agenda? Please don’t get me wrong, it seems pretty clear what his stance on this issue is. Also I don’t want to understand his reasoning (I doubt I could), but I want to somehow understand how he came to it. I’d really like to conclude that he is simply a coward who is afraid of the Putin regime but probably that is wishful thinking…
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