Ukraine SFF Community Calls for Russia and Belarus To Be Excluded from European Science Fiction Society

Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk has released the text of a letter to the European Science Fiction Society (ESFS) board asking for an emergency general meeting to be run online “to review the questions about formal[ly] excluding Russia and Belarus from the list of ESFS members until the war is over taking into consideration the principle of zero-tolerance of any aggression [that] European nations follow.”

ESFS, founded in 1972, is an international organization of fans and professionals that promotes sff, administers the ESFS Awards, and determines the site of the Eurocon.

The Ukranian sff community in its letter also demands that ESFS Awards nominations submitted by Russia and Belarus be investigated to determine whether any of their nominees support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Those who do must be disqualified. Then, any remaining nominees from Russia and Belarus may not be identified with those countries but must be identified as nominees of ESFS or another sponsoring nation, following the Olympic Games’ example for handling entrants from banned countries.   

If an emergency meeting cannot be held, the letter calls for these points to be discussed at the first session of the ESFS meeting at Eurocon 2022, which will be held next week concurrently with LuxCon from April 7-10 in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

If the ESFS does not adopt these proposals, the Ukrainian sff community will officially quit ESFS, withdraw its 2022 ESFS Awards nominations, and not take part in any further ESFS activities until the war is over.

The complete text of the letter follows. (The English rendering may have been produced by Google Translate.)

For immediate release

To ESFS board

The algorithm we expected from the board and GM of ESFS

1. Call an EGM (emergency general meeting to be run online) to review the questions about formal excluding Russia and Belarus from the list of ESFS members until the war is over taking into consideration the principle of zero-tolerance of any aggression European nations follow.

2. Nominations accepted from Russia and Belarus to be subject to investigation if any of the nominees supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If so it should lead to immediate disqualification of such nominees.

3. Accepted and non-disqualified nominations should go under ESFS nominations or a sponsoring country, not Russia or Belarus using Olympic principle – Olympic flag, sponsoring country flag, not embargoed country flag.

4. These should be voted during the EGM.

5. If EGM is not possible, pp 1 to 4 should be discussed at the first at the scheduled first ESFS General business meeting in Luxembourg.

6. In the case Russia and Belarus remain in ESFS member list and/or Russian and Belarusian nominations will go as Russian and Belarusian, not under ESFS or a sponsoring country title, after EGM or the first General business meeting in Luxembourg, Ukraine officially quits ESFS and withdraws all Ukrainian nominations for ESFS 2022 Awards. In this case Ukrainian delegates or their proxy representatives will not take part in the second business meeting, ESFS Award voting and any further ESFS activities until the war is over.

Ukrainian SF&F Community

21 thoughts on “Ukraine SFF Community Calls for Russia and Belarus To Be Excluded from European Science Fiction Society

  1. As long as we also exclude all countries that participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m ok with it. I guess that would mean Ukraine too.

  2. In its 50 year of history, the European SF Society and its predecessor the European SF Committee has never taken a political stance. It has throughout the cold war been of outmost importance for the survival of the organization. Even though every member of the ESFS (including attending members of the Eurocon) on a personal level support Ukraine, it would be a mistake to buckle now. Regardless of how heartwarming the cause may be.

  3. Thought policing – the very definition of tyranny. Of course, the Ukraine was communist for most of the last 100 years so I suppose it comes naturally.

    Hampus, Wolf, Steve – all very well stated. You eloquently expressed my thoughts on this subject better than I did myself. Hampus, you especially.

    Finally, f**k Putin!

  4. Russia is taking the position that Ukraine doesn’t exist. Not sure why Ukraine should be expected in the circumstances to recognize the validity of Russia

  5. When a team goes to the Olympics it does so sponsored and funded by a state. This is not true of a science fiction fan going to an ESFS meeting.

    The war on Ukraine is an abomination committed by the Russian state, and that same state is increasingly turning against its own citizens with police crackdowns, censorship and spying–a Russian colleague at work tells me that teachers’ phones in Russia are being checked by police for “propaganda.”

    Meanwhile the Ukrainian state, rather than supporting resistance in Russia, is promoting propaganda against ethnic Russians. Recently the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, a state organ, claimed that Russians are inherently totalitarian, dishonest and violent because, rather than being purely “Slavic,” they are “formed through mixing with Finno-Ugrish tribes.”

    In the heat of an ongoing war against one’s own country it is easy to understand how a private citizen might get sucked into repeating these kind of misdirected, hateful sentiments.

    Joining in censorship and ethnonationalism helps nobody.

  6. Lis Carey: “ Russia is taking the position that Ukraine doesn’t exist. Not sure why Ukraine should be expected in the circumstances to recognize the validity of Russia.”

    If you’re arguing every Russian is in some manner guilty by association with the actions of the Putin Administration, wouldn’t that also apply to every USAmerican during Trump’s four years in the White House?

  7. Steve Green: Haven’t you learned that these reductio ad absurdum arguments fail every time? Your “If you’re arguing” proposition is something that millions of people throughout the world actually believe. Your comment fails because you haven’t clarified whether you yourself believe the proposition is absurd, or only welcomed the chance to work something you really believe into the conversation.

  8. Fundamentally this is a question about whether, in addition to the economic isolation being imposed on Russia by various sanctions, other countries should culturally isolate them as well. There seems to be relatively little controversy about things like FIFA requiring that Russian soccer teams may only compete without presentation of the Russian flag or national anthem, Warner Brothers not releasing The Batman in Russia, iconic companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s pulling out of the country, and so forth. I get the impression that the general consensus is in favor of cutting Russia off from most European and American cultural institutions. Expelling Russia from cultural organizations like ESFS feels like something that would be broadly in line with these other events.

  9. Do I believe individual Russians (or even non-political societies composed of same) should be ostracised merely because of the actions of their national government? No, Mr Glyer, I do not. Do you?

    As for “millions of people actually believe [this]”, I prefer logic and fairness to the groupthink of a media-driven mob.

  10. Miles Carter says Thought policing – the very definition of tyranny. Of course, the Ukraine was communist for most of the last 100 years so I suppose it comes naturally.

    Read up. The Communist Party and all of its descendants have been banned in the Ukraine since the breakup of the USSR with the judicial and security branches persecuting anything that attempts to organise itself. The Ukrainian government is adamantly anti-communist.

  11. @cat You can ban a political party but you can’t ban a mindset. They’re totalitarians just the Russians, just a slightly different flavor.

  12. Miles Carter says You can ban a political party but you can’t ban a mindset. They’re totalitarians just the Russians, just a slightly different flavor.

    I take history was not your area in University?

    They are not totalitarians and there so many political groups, and they are not really political parties as we think of them, that you can barely keep track of who’s in the coalition government right now.

    Politics there is, according to everyone who studies their politics, are intensely personality based. I mean really personality based. So that’s how they ended up with a comedian as their leader. They really, really like him.

    That he turns out to be seriously kicking the behind of Putin is an unexpected bonus.

  13. They liked him. Before they decided he was as corrupt as other politicians and wanted him to stay out of politics that is. Zelensky would have been kicked out, according to all polls, if it wasn’t for the war. But now he is needed as a symbol for the nation.

  14. I’m not a big fan of the purely symbolic gesture, and I’d be surprised if being denied membership in the ESFS would actually impinge on the Russian leader’s awareness for more than two or three seconds, let alone affect any decisions. He’d probably value the attention more than be annoyed by the action.

  15. The banning or disqualification of nominations on political grounds is not an act supported by the constitution of the ESFS.
    Borys Sydiuk has many influental friends among attending Eurocon members. My bet is, the Russians are not going to get any votes. Either way.

  16. A request for clarity: this letter is signed ‘Ukrainian SF&F Community’, yet the only person mentioned in the article above is Borys Sydiuk, strongly implying these are his personal demands. Sydiuk might have “many influential friends” at Eurocon, but in what sense does he speak for the fans and professionals of Ukraine?

  17. Steve Green: Maybe he’ll see this and answer. He’s not a one-man fandom, though. They had the Eurocon there.

  18. I am aware of that, but it’s impossible to evaluate this letter without knowing its true author(s).

  19. I can personally vouch for Borys Sydiuk, being the one who would be chosen as the speaker of the Ukrainian SF&F fandom Community. He would represent what the majority of Ukrainian sf-fans feel. It is unlikely to have been an election as such, but it should not be surprising what the prevalent sentiment is. Of his allegiance there can be no doubt.

    I consider Borys a friend (as well as a number of Ukrainian fans on both sides of the argument). I do not have answers. Everyone involved is suffering. In war, there are only different degrees of losing.

  20. Pingback: European Science Fiction Society Board Makes Statement on Russia-Ukraine War | File 770

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.