NATIONAL NEWS

Gessen resigns from PEN America board over canceled panel with Russian dissidents

May 16, 2023, 3:07 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The author and journalist Masha Gessen has resigned as vice president of the board of PEN America, citing their unhappiness with the literary and free expression organization’s cancellation of an event with Russian panelists.

Last week, PEN hosted dozens of events for its annual World Voices Festival, an international gathering of writers and other public figures. One conversation was supposed to include two Russian dissident writers, with Gessen serving as moderator. A separate panel was to feature the Ukrainian writers Artem Chapeye and Artem Chekh, active members of the Ukrainian military.

In a lengthy statement Tuesday, PEN acknowledged a “misunderstanding” led to the Russians being uninvited. Because of the Russian invasion last year, the Ukrainians had objected to the presence of any Russian panelists — a condition PEN believed applied only to the Ukraine event. After learning that Chapeye and Chekh didn’t want the Russians at the festival overall, and failing to reach any compromise, PEN called off the Russian panel.

“They (the Ukrainians) informed us that they would be unable to participate, explaining that had both events proceeded, they could face being barred from returning to Ukraine or facing repercussions upon their return,” PEN’s statement said.

“Faced with the consequences of our mistake and without good options, we made the decision that the event with the Ukrainians should go forward, given their circumstances and the risks they face as soldiers, that they had traveled a long distance to participate, and that they came with a misunderstanding to which we had contributed.”

Gessen, whose decision was first reported Tuesday by The Atlantic, is a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an award-winning writer. They called PEN’s decision a betrayal of its principles and said that PEN should not have tolerated guests being barred from speaking “because someone else doesn’t want them to.”

Gessen said they would remain a PEN member and continue to work with it on a journalism project, the Russian Independent Media Archive, announced in April. They will not attend the PEN gala Thursday night in Manhattan, the organization’s biggest annual event, “because it would be awkward and sad to go,” Gessen told the AP.

National News

Associated Press

2024 Election Latest: Trump and Harris hit campaign trail as Biden prepares to address the nation

After dropping out of the presidential race, Joe Biden will address the nation on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. Vice President Kamala Harris has accepted Biden’s endorsement and is building momentum ahead of the DNC in Chicago. On the campaign trail, Harris will head to the solidly Republican state of Indiana, and Donald Trump is […]

17 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris poses for a selfie with Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Sara Rodriguez as Sen. Tamm...

Associated Press

Harris to address historically Black sorority as her campaign hopes to win women of color

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters in Indiana haven’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate in nearly 16 years. But when Vice President Kamala Harris heads to the solidly Republican state on Wednesday, she’ll speak to a constituency she hopes will turn out for her in massive numbers in November: women of color. Just three days after launching […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian stocks fall after a torrent of profit reports leaves Wall Street mixed

Asian stocks fell on Wednesday as markets digested Japanese and Australian business data, after U.S. stocks held relatively steady as earnings reporting season ramped up for big companies. U.S. futures fell while oil prices were higher. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.1% to 39,154.85, with the Japanese yen trading at its highest level in months […]

4 hours ago

The setting sun illuminates the clouds over the Rocky Mountains after a third straight day of recor...

Associated Press

Monday is the hottest day recorded on Earth, beating Sunday’s record, European climate agency says

Monday was recorded as the hottest day ever, beating a record set the day before, as countries across the globe from Japan to Bolivia to the United States continue to feel the heat, according to the European climate change service. Provisional satellite data published by Copernicus early on Wednesday showed that Monday broke the previous […]

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump reacts after speaking at a campaign...

Associated Press

Trump expected to turn his full focus on Harris at first rally since Biden’s exit from 2024 race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Donald Trump is holding his first public campaign rally since President Joe Biden dropped out of a 2024 matchup that both major parties had spent months preparing for, leaving the former president to direct his ire toward his likely new opponent, Vice President Kamala Harris. Trump is expected to turn his […]

7 hours ago

A runner and their pacer run as the sun rises behind them on California Route 190 during the Badwat...

Associated Press

Runners set off on the annual Death Valley ultramarathon billed as the world’s toughest foot race

DEATH VALLEY NATOINAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — During a rainstorm that partially obscured the light of a a nearly full moon, 97 runners pushed off in desolate Death Valley with the launch of a 48-hour annual ultramarathon billed as the world’s toughest foot race — the Badwater 135. After starting late Monday night, the men […]

7 hours ago

Gessen resigns from PEN America board over canceled panel with Russian dissidents