[Corpora-List] Fw: SketchEngine CEO: No “business as usual” with Russia anymore

Mike Scott mike at lexically.net
Tue Mar 8 18:27:07 CET 2022

I too support this statement.


On 08/03/2022 10:49, Eric Atwell wrote:
> I support Miloš Jakubíček's public statement, and have forwarded it to
> 500+ students and staff at Leeds University who use SketchEngine
> Eric Atwell, Professor of Artificial Intelligence for Language
> School of Computing, Uni of LEEDS, LS2 9JT, UK
> A public statement
> <https://www.sketchengine.eu/news/no-business-as-usual-with-russia-anymore/> by
> Miloš Jakubíček, CEO of Lexical Computing,
> on Sketch Engine unavailability in Russia and Belarus.
> https://www.sketchengine.eu/wp-content/uploads/ukraine-gebe587dbc_640-300x169.png
> 300w" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px">
> One week ago, I decided to cut off the Russian and Belarusian internet
> address space from Sketch Engine (and related services) following the
> Russian invasion of Ukraine. That decision was not easy to take but
> after one week I am perhaps even more confident it was the right
> decision than I was back then. While the overall feedback was
> supportive, we have also been getting all sorts of complaints. This
> text attempts to respond to the main critical voices:
> /“this is ethically wrong”/
> I do not think so. On the contrary: for me, this is the only ethically
> plausible solution. By operating on a market you legitimate that
> market and those who are in control of the market. But the Russian
> market lost its legitimacy one week ago when it became a war machine.
> Moreover, since most Sketch Engine users are academics, it is state
> money we would continue taking (directly, or indirectly through users’
> salaries). I do not see how we could continue providing services in
> Russia, take money for it and pretend as if nothing happened. The next
> day after the invasion we have contributed 250,000 CZK (approx. 10,000
> €) to the account of People in Need
> <https://www.peopleinneed.net/what-we-do/humanitarian-aid-and-development/ukraine> for
> humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
> I should perhaps also mention that by cutting Russia off, the amount
> of hacking attempts targeted at our infrastructure dropped by 90%.
> /“science should not be political”/
> This, I admit, I find completely ridiculous. Anyone having a job in
> science, sport or culture and thinking they are apolitical, please
> have a look at your payroll and where the money is coming from. Have a
> look at your government’s website how proud the country is of its
> scientists, athletes or artists? In these areas, you represent your
> country more than in others, willingly or not.
> /“but I’m against Putin”/
> Me too. You are unfortunate in that you live in an economic area that
> Putin (absolutely) controls and used its gains to initiate an invasion
> of your neighbouring country, Ukraine, committing atrocities and
> killing many people equally innocent as you claim to be. All the
> sanctions punish the guilty ones, the innocent ones as well as those
> initiating the sanctions, otherwise they would not be effective. We
> all need to make sacrifices now. If you live in Russia, now is the
> time when you need to act and do what you can to prevent the otherwise
> inevitable: Russia becoming the second North Korea, completely
> isolated from the outside world, completely cut off from any type of
> collaboration in business, science, culture or sport.
> /“and you think Putin will stop because of Sketch Engine?”/
> Surely not. Sketch Engine is not the bread and butter people need for
> everyday living. But it is the bread and butter for
> corpus linguistics. It is a high-tech premium product that enables
> people to take part in state-of-the-art research and science in some
> fields. Not making it available in Russia constitutes a very, very
> tiny bit of pressure against ongoing aggression in Ukraine. But I
> believe that every bit counts.
> Many people much more competent to do this than me have been analyzing
> the current situation, an excellent summary was provided e.g. by Garry
> Kasparov
> <https://twitter.com/Kasparov63/status/1499439820363468802?s=20&t=3X-hfb9U88sKfUgfctXNJg>.
> I am afraid that, for all kind of reasons (massive propaganda from
> Putin in the first place of course), many people in Russia are still
> far from realizing the damage Putin is making to Russia as well as
> Ukraine. It is now not the time to make business in Russia,
> collaborate in research and science or compete in sports. It is now
> not the time to do corpus linguistics in Russia. There is only one
> task for anyone in Russia: help get rid of Putin by any means you can.
> This is the task for Russia. The task for the rest of the world is to
> repent how come we did not see this coming and let it go that far.
> Equally, when Putin is gone and there is peace again in Europe, it
> will be our task to help rebuild Ukraine as well as Russia, and I will
> be happy to think about what Sketch Engine can then do to help the
> researchers in Ukraine as well as Russia to catch up. But until then,
> there is “no business as usual” with Russia anymore.
> Practically speaking: whether and when Sketch Engine becomes available
> in Russia no longer depends just on me. Since payments to Russia (both
> online and offline) are getting unavailable, there is no way to get
> paid. The EU sanctions list suggests that we may not even be allowed
> to provide our services in Russia.
> Afterword
> For me as a Czech, I do fear that the reminiscences of 1938 in
> Czechoslovakia are way too real. They are actually incredibly real. It
> is once again useful for everyone to recall the circumstances of the
> Munich agreement <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement>. In
> 1938 Hitler started iteratively escalating his demands on
> Czechoslovakia making sure they would not be acceptable by the
> Czechoslovak government (like Putin did with Ukraine). He finally
> demanded all border parts of Czechoslovakia, constituting about 30% of
> the country, with predominantly German speaking citizens, arguing they
> are oppressed by the Czechoslovak government and need to be protected
> (like Putin did with Luhansk and Donetsk). He claimed Czechoslovakia
> is an artificial country and part of historical Germany (like Putin
> claims about Ukraine). Finally, both France and the UK forced the
> Czechoslovak government to accept his demands in September 1938 on a
> conference in Munich.
> The UK prime minister Chamberlain then returned home claiming: /a
> British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with
> honour. I believe it is peace for our time. /He was responded by
> Winston Churchill: /You were given the choice between war and
> dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war./ Chamberlain’s
> naivety only made him an everlasting symbol of appeasement. In March
> 1939 Hitler invaded the rest of the defenseless Czechoslovakia. In
> September 1939 he attacked Poland. You know the rest.
> Since then, the Czech society has been split about whether we should
> have defended ourselves even without the help of the UK and France
> (who we had alliances with). Looking at Ukraine these days, it is hard
> not to think we should have and that it likely would have had
> significant influence on the course of WWII. Similarly, the people in
> Ukraine are now literally fighting for all of us and we should do all
> what we can to help them. I ask everyone to focus on this in the first
> place now, regardless of where you are. Slava Ukraini!
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