19 July 2019, Friday, 3:28
We are in the same boat

The Era of Mercy

Iryna Khalip

This world will not perish - we will be its saviors.

There are two media sources in my life that I'm involved in: Charter'97 and the Russian Novaya Gazeta. I love them and I am proud to be a part of the team. They are completely different, but this autumn there was an incredible coincidence: on the same day, September 3, when social networks burst with a school topic, both publications asked readers for support.

"Novaya" announced the "Become a Co-member" campaign. The Charter spoke in detail about its financial situation and called for the same. Both the "Novaya" and the Charter are the best, each in their own country, which means they face the same problems. No but readers need free speech, independent journalism, and the fight against propaganda. States are fighting both the word and its creators, and those who seem to oppose it prefer to support not gunpowder barrels, which can reach the unknown in search of the truth, but rather moderate, respectable and predictable media, which claim to be "over the fight".

In these three months I have not asked Natasha Radzina any questions about fund raising. Why should we discuss it on the phone or on Skype? Why should we ease the work of a major? I'll come to Warsaw and we'll talk there. But Natasha herself answered the question publicly two days ago. In her editorial column, she says that in three months, the Charter has raised about €15.000, and although this amount will not be able to solve all the problems, but it will provide two journalists with salaries for almost a year. In Novaya Gazeta, 1357 people made a monthly donation for the first day of the campaign.

Of course, trolls in both countries were naive to think they had received valuable information that could be used. I have no doubt that the KGB sites argue that Radzina has left for Monaco and bought Yanukovych's golden toilet to give it to the publisher of "Novaya", Dmitry Muratov, for his birthday. But trolls will remain petty creatures, and readers will be heroes.

Today's world, hanging by a thread, is being saved not by governments, but by volunteers. These volunteers support the Ukrainian army and help the families of Belarusian political prisoners. Volunteers take to orphanages and hospices things the state has no money for. Volunteers help sick children, hungry old people, homeless animals, they publish books and perform performances. Today all the best things on our planet are the result of volunteer projects, including independent media in totalitarian states.

Would a potential advertiser want to place an advertisement in Novaya Gazeta with six portraits of murdered journalists on walls? No. Six people murdered within 25 years, of course, a Guinness record, but it is better to choose something with less tragic history. And no one wants the ad to go along with articles on tortures and murders. Will a potential advertiser want to place an advertisement on the Charter, which was destroyed in the homeland (literally speaking with boots) and expelled, its founder Aleh Bebenin was killed? Of course, not. Not now, not under this power, and in general it is blocked, so it takes a long and thorny way to the target audience. So it turns out that, only readers are those who can help and worth trust.

By the way, readers of both the Charter and "Novaya" have repeatedly suggested paid Internet subscriptions with the most important articles "under lock and key". But a free word is free because everyone can read it, regardless of purse and subscriptions. Sometimes, on the contrary, one wants to subscribe not to see and hear things around. Shut ears, hide under a blanket and say, "quitsies." But it's not working. One has to push the blanket away, waiting for the worst. And then the Charter comes to rescue: buddy, it is not all that bad, we can do it, you're not alone.

Of course, you're not alone. We are together. Loneliness is not our story. Do you remember when you took toys to a baby home? Do you remember how you transferred 20 rubles for a sick girl abandoned by the state? Do you still remember a puppy you picked on the street? Do you remember the moment when you joined the parasite meeting, when you had no more strength to stand those humiliations? Do you remember the moment when you first clicked "support charter97.org"?

This world will never perish. Together we will save it- naive rangers with toy swords, looking for someone in our empathy. Volunteers of planet Earth.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org