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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 remaining population of about 40 million is under direct attack. They need our immediate support!
Russian citizens who oppose the war are subject to arrest and persecution; over two hundred thousand are estimated to have already left their country. 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 Russian and Belarusian academics.
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 offered to host Ukrainian colleagues in their research facilities. 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 impacts 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.
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 repressive regime in multiple ways since long before the current events and many 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 in Russia and the impact of Western sanctions, anti-war Russian students and scholars are in double jeopardy. 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 to 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.
Together we must help those in need to continue their work and education and ultimately build a better future for their countries and humankind. If you want to support the call made on behalf of the Russian-speaking academic diaspora, even if you do not speak Russian, you can add your signature using the google form: https://forms.gle/Bo2Ppa9Lgrr96sQf8.