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

Bilal Ghanem bilalhgm at gmail.com
Wed Mar 9 04:38:42 CET 2022

Although I am totally against this war, "I find completely ridiculous" this statement.

I wish this statement was written before the Ukraine-Russia war; it looks like this is the only war nowadays.

On Tue, Mar 8, 2022 at 3:53 AM Eric Atwell <E.S.Atwell at leeds.ac.uk> 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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