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

Alexey Lavrentev alexei.lavrentev at ens-lyon.fr
Thu Mar 17 15:10:42 CET 2022

Dear all,

The statement of Russian rectors is unfortunately not a fake. It should be noted that rectors (presidents of universities) are appointed directly by the minister of education, are very well paid (compared to faculty members and staff), and the ministry can easily cut a great part of the funding if a university does not "behave well".

I know that at least some universities do as much as they can to protect students and faculty who participate in actions against the war.

Many colleagues that I know personally and who are still in Russia have signed an open letter published on the EADH website (https://eadh.org). I admire their courage.

As far as the original issue of this thread is concerned, I don't think the decision of SketchEngine to discontinue its business in Russia may be of any harm to Putin's regime. And I think that no longer having access to SketchEngine is the least of the problem for Russian scholars who are still able to do research.

While suspending all SketchEngine accounts funded by the Russian government or public institutions seems a sensible measure, SketchEngine might at the same time provide free access to all those individual scholars who wish work on debunking Putin's propaganda and promoting access to independent news sources on what is happenning in the Ukraine. I don't know if it's technically feasible though.

Speaking more generally of sanctions, I am afraid that this is the only way the West can undermine Putin's war machine without increasing the risk of a nuclear war, which is real. The population will suffer but when the industries producing weapons will stop, many lives will be saved.

Alexei Lavrentiev Ingénieur de recherche UMR 5317 IHRIM, CNRS, Lyon, France

Le 16/03/2022 à 17:01, Alexander Osherenko a écrit :
> Dear all,
> https://www.rsr-online.ru/news/2022-god/obrashchenie-rossiyskogo-soyuza-rektorov1/ can
> be a fake. If you want to know more about this or want to test your
> favorite MT, here is an interesting article from Novaya Gazeta:
> https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2022/03/10/zhivye-i-mertvye-pishut-putinu
> Kind regards, Alexander
> --
> Alexander Osherenko, Dr. rer. nat.
> Am Mi., 16. März 2022 um 16:40 Uhr schrieb Miloš Jakubíček
> <milos.jakubicek at sketchengine.eu>:
> Dear all,
> Thank you for all your comments, even though I never intended to
> start a discussion -- I wrote the statement merely to relieve my
> colleagues in the support team from the burden of explaining.
> Below I'm forwarding a reply from Andrius (which got stuck
> somewhere underway in the mailman). I do agree with him that one
> of our mistakes is applying Western democratic political
> principles to Putin -- that simply doesn't work.
> I'm naturally a cooperative person (which is sometimes a problem
> in business where you should frequently be able to say "no" to
> maintain focus) so when I read about "efforts to keep
> communication and work with the other side",
> that triggers my soft spot immediately. But then nothing simply
> ever changes and this is exactly what Putin was hoping for: we
> condemn and move on (or even worse, get stuck in some fake news
> and start speculating whether the Ukrainians were smiling too
> provocatively over to Putin or not). And next time again. And as
> much as we may diverge in opinions, that there would not be a next
> time after Ukraine (be it Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland or
> Moldova) is simply extremely unlikely, sorry to say that.
> Everyone saying my position is safe and easy to take from a warm
> desk in Brno is completely right of course. No bombs over our
> heads and no threats whatsoever for taking the position. But also
> some 20k refugees already in a city of 400k after three weeks of
> war, so you do meet them daily in shops and public transportation
> and immediately recognize them by the frightened faces of the kids
> (of course, anyone in Poland beats these numbers 10x or so), so
> there is plenty of opportunity for us to help here (not just
> money; one of my colleagues with a 5-headed family got 4 extra
> heads just a few days ago etc.).
> Finally, it seems some people were reading my statement about the
> role of politics in science so that I'm promoting science to be
> political. That is of course not the case. There are (many) things
> in this world we wish to change but can't, wanting science to stay
> completely away from politics is one of them. Where democracy
> works well, science and politics only meet occasionally and try to
> carefully operate in well-defined relationships. In Russia these
> days, it looks like this:
> https://www.rsr-online.ru/news/2022-god/obrashchenie-rossiyskogo-soyuza-rektorov1/
> (just translate using your favourite MT -- both DeepL and Google
> did a rather good job when I tried, though the content is quite
> more shocking than the translation quality)
> All the best
> Milos
> ---------- Forwarded message ---------
> From: *Andrius Utka* <andrius.utka at vdu.lt>
> Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2022 at 09:03
> Subject: RE: [Corpora-List] Fw: SketchEngine CEO: No “business as
> usual” with Russia anymore
> To: Miloš Jakubíček <milos.jakubicek at sketchengine.eu>
> Cc: Marek Medveď <marek.medved at sketchengine.eu>, Vít Suchomel
> <vit.suchomel at sketchengine.eu>
> Hi, all,
> I just want to express my full support for your earlier public
> statement. Unfortunately, my letter of support (below) did not
> go through to corpora at uib.no (apparently, it wasn’t confirmed
> by a moderator), maybe considered as too emotional 😊.
> Anyway, I just wanted to react to some doubtful posts that
> have been published in this list.
> Best regards,
> Andrius
> Dear all,
> I would like to express the full support to the public
> statement by Miloš. And I also want to express a few thoughts
> following the recent posts.
> I don‘t think Miloš’s statement  “No business as usual with
> Russia anymore“ is in any way hysterical, or russophobic, it
> is just a firm NO to this unjust war, where bombs fall on
> blocks of flats, nurseries, maternity centres, hospitals, and
> humanitarian corridors.
> The information war is also taking place. Any doubt that you
> express will be recorded and multiplied by a million times by
> a Russian propagandist and this very doubt will be used in
> this information war against Europe and democracy. Russian
> propaganda lives on such doubts. Russian propaganda exactly
> works in this way and has worked like that for 22 years
> already (since the Second Chechen War). That has been their
> strategy during Georgian war, during annexation of Crimea, in
> American elections, in Brexit and in this war (entangled in
> their doubts and disputes Americans and Britons suddenly found
> that they were forced into voting against their own will).
> Since one single doubt will produce one more doubt. The doubt
> will be spread by our own media, and multiplied by Russian
> troll factories and robots. They will make these two doubts
> into 2 million voices. Ask yourself: who is this “student from
> Leeds” anyway? Why his pro-Kremlin anonymous thoughts are sent
> to hundreds of scientists in the first place?
> Don‘t be naive and don’t reationalize by using Western
> democratic values, as Russia will use them against you. This
> is the main difference: westerners think they are taking part
> in democratic or academic discussions, and Russian propaganda
> uses it in the information war. I think it is time to unite
> without doubts against this terrorist state (by the way the
> term “terrorist state” was used by Lithuanian president
> Grybauskaitė already in 2014). I don’t care that Russian users
> via proxy can use SketchEngine. I’m sure that Russian
> programmers have already stolen all logins and they have been
> using SketchEngine illegally for years. But let them behave
> like thieves. As they are such. I know for a fact that Russian
> IT companies are stealing all the materials on a regular basis
> from Netflix and circulate them within Russian networks. Why
> SketchEngine would be an exception?
> Russia is already The North Korea, if you could see the
> Russian TV you would be amazed on how full of lies and biased
> it is. Of course, there are clear fakes, but their strongest
> claims are those that are made “on doubts that we produce
> ourselves“ (by Merkel, Rute and so on). Being themselves
> fascist, they call all opposition fascist, being themselves
> hysteric, they call each opposition as hysteric. All western
> media has been banned, as producers of fake news in Russia.
> So, full support! No doubts!
> Best regards,
> Andrius Utka
> Vytautas Magnus University
> Kaunas, Lithuania
> 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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> --
> Mike Scott
> lexically.net <http://lexically.net>
> Lexical Analysis Software and Aston University
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