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Kalniete: European film festival to be held in aggressor Russia is regrettable and unacceptable
MEPs are asking EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell and EU Ambassador to Russia Roland Galharague to explain how it was possible to hold a European film festival in Russia, taking place online from 1 to 15 November this year, under the auspices of the EU delegation in Russia.
A letter to the two EU officials, prepared by MEP Sandra Kalniete and signed by 18 MEPs, points out that hosting such a festival is regrettable and incompatible with the basic principles of the EU's external security policy. Namely, the festival raises serious and legitimate questions about how it is possible at a time when Russia has waged full-scale hostilities in Ukraine and the EU has imposed extensive sanctions against Russia.
"The organisation of such a festival is a typical propaganda technique inherited from the USSR and widely used in Putin's Russia to create the impression that political relations are normal or normalising."
Sandra Kalniete, MEP EPP group
Sandra Kalniete, MEP (EPP group) and author of the letter, says: "The organisation of such a festival is a typical propaganda technique inherited from the USSR and widely used in Putin's Russia to create the impression that political relations are normal or normalising."
The letter, signed by MEPs, reads: Russia's extensive track record of authoritarian foreign interference and image laundering should make it abundantly clear that the Putin regime clearly perceives culture, sports, scientific cooperation as extension of soft power and influence. Any cultural event hosted by the EU in the territory of Russia can be presented as a gesture of friendship or as an attempt to improve or normalise relations with the Kremlin. Unfortunately, this Festival provides ammunition for the Russian propaganda machine, which will exploit it to grant legitimacy to the regime. The slogan "Cinema unites" put forward by the organisers, emphasising the unity of cultures and interests, is blatantly irreconcilable with the crimes of imperial aggression, genocide, ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Putin's Russia at the time of writing.”
While MEPs are aware that the EU has resources allocated for various events organised by EU delegations around the world, they ask for clarification and justification for holding a European film festival in an EU-sanctioned country during the war of aggression against Ukraine.
The letter is signed by the MEPs Sandra Kalniete, Dace Melbārde, Ivars Ījabs and Roberts Zīle from Latvia, Rasa Juknevičienė and Petras Austrevičius from Lithuania, Riho Terras from Estonia, four MEPs from Poland, two from Slovakia, one each from Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
With the support of the EU Delegation to Russia and the slogan "Cinema unites!" the online "European Film Festival" organised in Russia from 1 to 15 November has also been heavily criticised in the media. Radio Free Europe, for example, points out that the festival did not take place in 2022 due to the war in Europe started by Russia, but that it has been revived this year, offering 21 films from European countries. The Latvian public media portal LSM and the news programme Panorama have pointed out that two films by Latvian directors - Oleg and Imad's Childhood - have been removed from the festival's repertoire at the authors' request because they did not give permission for the films to be shown in a terrorist country.
The official websites of the EU Delegation to Russia state that the festival showcases the most important European films of recent years, while a quote from the EU Ambassador to Russia states that the film festival is a tool to promote European values, culture, freedom of thought and expression, while Russian culture is part of Europe's cultural heritage.
Prepared by Elīna Bīviņa, Assistant to MEP Sandra Kalniete
Note to editors
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 178 Members from all EU Member States
Head of Delegation
Press Officer. National press, Latvian Media
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