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

Andrey Kutuzov akutuzov72 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 9 16:07:54 CET 2022

This "response from a Leeds student user of SketchEngine" is 99% nonsense mixed with Kremlin propaganda. I am saying this as a citizen of Russia and a person belonging to the Russian culture.

On 09.03.2022 11:50, Eric Atwell wrote:
> Thank you Mike, Anna, Bilal, Geoffrey for your comments.
> It seems not everyone agrees with everything; below is a response from a
> Leeds Uni student; sources of information are not specified but I
> suspect mainly social media.
> Maybe this is an opportunity to collect a SketchEngine corpus of fake news?
> Here is a short tutorial on fake news detection, by Leeds PhD student
> Saud Althabiti
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BV_0dpC7g0&ab_channel=SaudAlthabiti
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BV_0dpC7g0&ab_channel=SaudAlthabiti>
> Eric Atwell, Professor of Artificial Intelligence for Language
> School of Computing, Uni of LEEDS, UK
> Response from a Leeds student user of SketchEngine:
> "This statement is extremely fascist and hateful even though hidden
> behind nice words. I am writing you this to warn you about the dangerous
> things happening to the west, as my country was once under SSSR
> influence and control I can safely say the west is copying a lot of the
> things the SSSR was doing - heavy censorship and propaganda against the
> other side as well as depicting those people as evil and spreading "bad
> things".
> Those actions are in every sense ethically wrong as well as xenophobic.
> What is happening now is a complicated political conflict with many
> countries playing a big part in it and Russia is far from being the main
> culprit for the war(even though this is hidden from people in the west).
> The argument for science being political is an extremely fascist and
> very dangerous way of thinking. For all jobs, the money comes from the
> government one way or another this shouldn't mean that you must be a
> pawn of that government and obey its political views. Politics has no
> place in science and art, and this shouldn't even be a question.
> To get in out of the way I am not Russian, and I am not a fan of Russia
> nor is my country but the amount of hate and propaganda toward it is
> just insane.
> I understand that Russia is being depicted as this bad country always
> wanting to start a war and the good west is saving people and democracy.
> But I really want you to understand how far from the truth this is,
> Russia had 0 foreign actions until the Putin speech in Munich 2007 and
> the rest of the actions have been mainly a response to actions of the
> west. If you are interested in the matter, I recommend checking Vladimir
> Pozner and his speech at Yale for example(from 2018 if I am not
> mistaken) he is a French lived in the USA and moved to SSSR, so he has a
> very broad viewpoint and at this speech, he talked about all the things
> that are happening now.  If you want the short version of the situation,
> it's as follows: NATO tried to put nuclear-capable "defence" rockets in
> most countries surrounding Russia - Romania, Poland, Ukraine to name a
> few and spread its influence in a lot of the countries from the Eastern
> Block and ex SSSR which the west promised not to do and this was used as
> a deal to let the SSSR free East Germany. On top of that people in
> Donbas are Russians and they want to be part of Russia and have been
> abused by the Ukrainian government, how much and to what extent is not
> exactly known, what we know is that Ukraine has been actively banning
> and removing Russian(language) from Universities and School in the last
> decade. The other thing is that people in western Europe are extremely
> racist and it's not even a question so it's not hard to believe that
> those Russians in Ukraine have been abused because we know that
> Bulgarians have been abused and killed in Odesa in the last decade.
> So please don't spread propaganda against Russia, the political
> situation is complicated, and war is never the answer and a lot of
> countries have done wrong and have fault for this course of
> action(including Russia of course) but you can't put the blame on only
> one country. "
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Geoffrey Williams <geoffrey.williams at univ-ubs.fr>
> *Sent:* 09 March 2022 10:17
> *To:* Eric Atwell <E.S.Atwell at leeds.ac.uk>
> *Cc:* CORPORA at UIB.NO <corpora at uib.no>
> *Subject:* Re: [Corpora-List] SketchEngine CEO: No “business as usual”
> with Russia anymore
> A highly appropriate statement that I fully support. I have passed it on
> to students and also to colleagues in Romania and the Czech Republic who
> aren’t corpora members but who do use SketchEngine.
> My admiration for the solidarity being shown by frontline states as
> Poland,Romania and the Czech Republic is immense.
> Geoffrey
>> Le 8 mars 2022 à 11:49, Eric Atwell <E.S.Atwell at leeds.ac.uk
>> <mailto:E.S.Atwell at leeds.ac.uk>> a écrit :
>> 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
>> <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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-- Solve et coagula! Andrey

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