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Letter: publishers are also worried about the cultural boycott

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Congratulations to Ivan Krastev for his article “The West cannot turn its back on ordinary Russians” (Opinion, FT Weekend, March 12). As several authors point out elsewhere in your pages, we would do well not to equate Russia with Vladimir Putin – or to assume that Russians see themselves as we might see them.

I run a small independent publishing house in Dublin. When Russia invaded Ukraine, I wondered, like others no doubt, what I could do. I stood outside the Russian Embassy in solidarity with Ukrainians and Russians protesting there.

And hats off to the priest who threw red paint on the railings – and refuses to pay the fine he was fined for causing criminal damage.

A book we published last year is being considered by a Russian publisher. Should I have taken it down – like our little cultural boycott? After all, Irish novelist Sally Rooney recently blocked publication of her work in Israel, on humanitarian grounds.

In the end, I didn’t. In fact, I hope the Russian publisher will take care of it. There’s a lot in there about the atrocities committed by Stalin and others – as well as our noblest impulses. Perhaps it will end up in the hands of someone influential in Russian government circles.

The book’s title ? The pursuit of kindness, by Éamonn Toland. We could all – with the possible exception of Putin and his entourage – do with a bit of that right now, in Russia as well as in the West.

Sean O’Keeffe
Publisher, Liberties Press, Dublin, Ireland