FREE WORD ASSOCIATION unites writers, journalists, translators, editors, publishers, and professional bloggers, all those for whom literary work, work with the text has become the main essence of life. Legally it is a Russian organization, but it unites all those who write in Russian, for whom the free Russian word is the foundation of their profession.
We regard freedom of speech as one of the most important civil freedoms, and the right to creative expression as one of the basic human rights in the modern world. We are aware that this freedom and this right in today’s Russia are under constant threat and fierce pressure from state authorities at all levels, as well as from political and public groups professing the idea of authoritarian violence against individuals. Therefore, we are convinced that freedom of speech and the right to creativity require active, systematically organized defense. Thus, the FREE WORD ASSOCIATION believes itself to be a human rights organization.
Carrying out the human rights activities, we intend to follow the spirit and letter of the International PEN-Club Charter, one of the most well-known and respected manifests advocating the values of freedom of speech.
The main tasks of the Association are monitoring the situation with freedom of speech in Russia, collecting and analyzing information on restrictions and violations of the rights to literary and journalistic creativity. The Association sees as its most important mission the widespread and effective notification of both Russian society and international human rights and public organizations about the real state of affairs in this area. We shall prepare and submit to the general public reports, reviews, other analytical and journalistic materials – both on behalf of the Association as a whole, and on behalf of its individual members. We will publish open letters in defense of people and organizations whose rights to free speech, free thought, free expression have been trampled on or restricted. We intend to closely cooperate with public associations defending the democratic rights of individuals in various spheres of science, education, and arts in Russia and in the world. Since the very beginning of our activity we have maintained close contacts with the International PEN-Club, the European Federation of Journalists and other repescted international organizations.
Our Association is being created under stress, in the times when any civic activity in Russia is associated with considerable difficulties, and even with direct risk for its organizers and participants. The state considers human rights activity and other forms of public activity of citizens as evidence of “unreliability”, which is harmful and dangerous for the authorities. Legislation is increasingly complicating the work of human rights organizations: they can easily get an insulting label of a “foreign agent” and their further work might be prohibited. Public associations that try to preserve independence and objectivity are under pressure and are intimidated by various kinds of law enforcement agencies and special services, they find themselves under unnecessarily captious, often petty control of tax, financial and other administrative bodies.
In these circumstances, the public organizations that have been operating in Russia for many years often abandon human rights work, declare themselves “living outside politics,” and finally abstain from any meaningful activity, thus breaking their own statutory principles. Among the participants of our newly born Association there are a lot of those who could be indifferent to such degradation of formerly respected organizations.
We are sure that the creation of a new independent, non-governmental human rights public association is a timely and necessary undertaking. We sincerely hope for the attention and support of the Russian society, which needs and welcomes freedom. And freedom of speech and literary creativity is integral part of this freedom.