Open Letter from Russian-Speaking Academic Diaspora

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a major humanitarian crisis. At the time of this writing, March 19, 2022, more than 3 million Ukrainians, including 1 million children, have fled to neighboring countries to escape the war. The Ukrainian people are under direct attack, and they need our immediate support!

Russian citizens who oppose the war are subject to arrest and persecution; over two hundred thousand of them are estimated to have already left their country. At the same time, many citizens of Belarus have left their own country for similar reasons.

The war has inflicted immeasurable pain on the scholarly community in Ukraine and devastation on the Russian and Belarusian academia.

Support displaced Ukrainian students and scholars

In addition to offering moral support to our Ukrainian colleagues, we strive to provide them with access to laboratories and research centers across the globe. Some members of the international academic community have pledged their support by offering to host Ukrainian colleagues in their research facilities across North America and in other countries. The Russian academic diaspora has joined this effort, but more should be done. By supporting the careers of displaced students and scholars, we can take a tangible part in promoting the rapid rebuilding of post-war Ukraine and mitigating the socio-economic implications of this war.

Emergency funding is needed to enable participating laboratories and research centers across the EU, US, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and other countries to provide on-site and remote training and job opportunities for displaced students and scholars from Ukraine. Some have been displaced, together with their dependents and close relatives, young and old, and we need immediate solutions to keep their families together. Concerted efforts should be made without delay to create short and long-term fellowships and to provide visa support, rapid immigration procedures, and travel assistance.

Support Russian and Belarusian students and scholars

We need to distinguish between the sanctions on the Russian government and how we treat Russian students and scholars who oppose the war. The war in Ukraine is Putin’s war, not theirs. People in the sciences and the humanities have consistently opposed Putin’s regime in multiple ways since long before the current events and have taken a brave stance against the war. Anti-war protesters in Russia, mostly young professionals, are being arrested and can be imprisoned for up to 15 years under a recently enacted Russian law.

With the growing suppression of free speech by the Russian government, on the one hand, and the negative impact of Western sanctions, on the other, the anti-war Russian students and scholars are in double jeopardy. They are at risk of international isolation and increased state persecution, especially in face of massive internet shutdowns and the tightening stranglehold on information. The same applies to Belarusian scholars suffering under the Lukashenko regime.

Some of these scholars remain in their countries; others have chosen to flee. We strongly encourage all our colleagues to keep their individual connections and support Russian and Belarusian professionals who oppose the war but cannot leave the country for various reasons. As for those fleeing Russia and Belarus in fear of state persecution, they qualify for refugee status and need support from academe and governments.

We call on the international academic community to commit our time and effort to support Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarussian scholars affected by this war. Together we must help those in need to continue their work and education and ultimately build a better future for their countries and humankind.

  1. Natalia Berloff, mathematician, University of Cambridge, UK
  2. Alexandra Boltasseva, electrical engineer, Purdue University, USA
  3. Mark Borodovsky, computational biologist, Georgia Tech, USA
  4. Tatiana Bronich, chemist, Northeastern University, USA
  5. Dmitry Bykov, writer, Cornell University, USA
  6. Maria Chekhova, physicist, Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany
  7. Leonid Chernomordik, biologist, National Institutes of Health, USA
  8. Alexander Dizhoor, neuroscientist, Salus University, USA
  9. Irina Dubinina, Slavic scholar, Brandeis University, USA
  10. Igor Efimov, biophysicist, George Washington University, USA
  11. Sergei Erofeev, sociologist, Rutgers University, USA, Polish Institute of Advanced Studies, Poland
  12. Pavel Etingof, mathematician, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  13. Alexander Etkind, historian, European University, Italy
  14. Mikhail Epstein, cultural scholar, Emory University, USA
  15. Valery Fokin, chemist, University of Southern California
  16. Andre Geim, physicist, University of Manchester, UK
  17. Vadim Gladyshev, biochemist, Harvard University, USA
  18. Yury Gogotsi, materials scientist, Drexel University, USA
  19. Dmitry Gordenin, geneticist, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH
  20. Andrei Gudkov, oncology researcher, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, USA
  21. Sergei Guriev, economist, Sciences Po, Paris, France
  22. Olga Gursky, biophysicist, Boston University School of Medicine, USA
  23. Oleg Itskhoki, economist, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  24. Misha Ivanov, physicist, Max-Born Institute and Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  25. Alexander Kabanov, chemist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
  26. Mikhail Kats, applied physicist, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  27. Mikhail Katsnelson, physicist, Radboud University, Netherlands
  28. Eugene Koonin, biologist, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA
  29. Dmitry Korkin, computational biologist, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA
  30. Igor Kramnik, immunologist, Boston University, USA
  31. Alex Krasnok, physicist, Florida International University, USA
  32. Anna Krichevsky, neurobiologist, Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA
  33. Andrei Linde, physicist, Stanford University, USA
  34. Mark Lipovetsky, philologist, Columbia University, USA
  35. Natalia Litchinitser, physicist, Duke University, USA
  36. Olga Matich, philologist, University of California Berkeley, USA
  37. Ruslan Medzhitov, immunologist, Yale University, USA
  38. Igor Mel’čuk, linguist, Universite Quebec a Montreal, Canada
  39. Slava Mukhanov, physicist, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  40. Dmitry Murzin, chemical engineer, Abo Akademi University, Finland
  41. Mikhail Nikiforov, molecular biologist, Duke University, USA
  42. Konstantin Novoselov, physicist, National University of Singapore, USA
  43. Dmitri Orlov, aerospace engineer, University of California San Diego, USA
  44. Vadim Paperny, artist, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  45. Alexej Pashkin, physicist, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany
  46. Pavel Pevzner, computational biologist, University of California, San Diego, USA
  47. Maria Polinsky, linguist, University of Maryland, USA
  48. Irina Rish, computer scientist, University of Montreal, and Mila – Quebec AI Institute, Canada
  49. Alexander Rudensky, immunologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, USA
  50. Roald Sagdeev, physicist, University of Maryland, USA
  51. Irina Sekerina, cognitive scientist, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
  52. Denis Seletskiy, physicist, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada
  53. Vladimir Shalaev, physicist, Purdue University, USA
  54. Dmitri N. Shalin, sociologist, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
  55. Stanislav Shvabrin, slavist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
  56. Olga Smirnova, physicist, Max-Born Institute and Technical University, Berlin, Germany
  57. Konstantin Sonin, economist, University of Chicago, USA
  58. Svetlana Sukhishvili, materials scientist, Texas A&M University, USA
  59. Shamil Sunyaev, geneticist, Harvard University, USA
  60. Tatiana Tatarinova, computational biologist, University of La Verne, USA
  61. Vasily Temnov, physicist, CNRS, Ecole Polytechnique, France
  62. Dmitry Turchinovich, physicist, Bielefeld University, Germany
  63. Lyubov Titova, physicist, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA
  64. Alexander Tropsha, computational chemist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
  65. Vitaly Vanchurin, physicist, National Institutes of Health, USA
  66. Efim Zelmanov, mathematician, University of California, San Diego, USA
  67. Ariel Zhitnitsky, physicist, University of British Columbia, Canada
  68. Alexander Zholkovsky, philologist, University of Southern California, USA
  69. Andrei Zorin, Cultural Historian, University of Oxford, UK

All signatories signed as private individuals

A partial list of prior statements of Russian-speaking scholars against the war in Ukraine

● An open letter of Russian scientists and science journalists against the war in Ukraine (published 02/24/2022, over 8000 signatories)

t-invariant.org/2022/02/we-are-against-war/

● Stop the war! A declaration of the Russian-speaking academic diaspora (published 02/25/2022, over 500 signatories) docs.google.com/document/d/16kHjs3nwWM4Qb_c0OAZbNb6cH74cwaWDvuOzi7gzwXs/mobilebasic

● Community of the Moscow State University against the war (over 7000 alumni, students & faculty signatories, names now hidden because of retaliation) msualumniagainstwar.notion.site/0378ab0a0719486181781e8e2b360180

● An open letter from students-members of the list “Talents of Russia” of the Presidential Fund “Talent and Success” to the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1kH4Z9KhsGSax1Xa8IQ2rB5uqCrp_h7t63W1_ZwLoKUc/mobilebasic

● Health Scientists From the Former USSR Working in the United Stated Call to Stop Russia’s Criminal War Against Ukraine sciprotest.com