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Celebrities call for de-escalation in Ukraine

February 5, 2022

In an open letter, celebrities from around the world have called for an end to Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The prominent signatories include Ai Weiwei, Herta Müller and Ian McEwan.

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a tank in the snow.
"No war!" This is what the petition demands.Image: Vadim Ghirda/dpa/AP/picture alliance

While Vladimir Putin celebrates relations with China at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, more than 350 authors and artists from Germany and abroad, including numerous celebrities, are appealing to politicians to oppose "Putin's aggression."

The letter was initiated by the artist couple Pamela and Wolf Biermann, actor Burghart Klaussner, and cultural manager and literature festival initiator Ulrich Schreiber.

Prominent signatories include Nobel literature laureates Herta Müller and Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, writers Ian McEwan and Liao Yiwu, and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Putin, who has called the demise of the totalitarian Soviet Union a "tragedy," is known for his efforts to fight democratic movements within Russia and to try to destabilize international rivals through cyberattacks and misinformation.

'No immediate danger' for DW employees

One day before the statement was published, the Russian government banned Deutsche Welle. The move was a reaction to the ban on German-language programming by Russian state broadcaster RT DE. On Thursday, DW Director-General Peter Limbourg criticized the measures. "We are being made a pawn here in a way that media only have to experience in autocracies," Limbourg said. "We formally protest this absurd reaction of the Russian government and will take legal action against the announced measures." Minister of State for Culture and Media Claudia Roth also called the broadcasting ban on DW unacceptable.

According to NATO intelligence, Russia is continuing military deployments around Ukraine. Thirty thousand Russian soldiers are also reported to have been deployed to Belarus. NATO speaks of the largest military action since the end of the Cold War. Criticism is being voiced about the German government's refusal to supply weapons to Ukraine.

hr/mkg (literature festival/epd)