6th Donskis Memorial Conference asks: Will Russia survive 2024?

Leonidas Donskis and Robert van Voren. Personal archive

“Leonidas Donskis would be appalled by the Russia we see today. For him there was never a doubt about the criminality of the Putin regime, although at the time when he passed away the idea of a full scale war of aggression in Ukraine and sentences of up to 25 years for political opponents would have seemed outlandish. Leonidas Donskis had a lot of Russian friends who were part of the “other Russia”, of which most have either left the country or are now languishing in prison. I have no doubt he would have been a very active discussant during the upcoming Donskis conference“, says Robert van Voren, professor at Vytautas Magnus University.

On 21st September The Sixth Leonid Donskis Memorial Conference will take place at the Vaidila Theatre in Vilnius, organized by his former colleague and friend Robert van Voren, who heads the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development at Vytautas Magnus University. This year’s conference, which will be held in English and is as always with free admission, focuses on the fate of Russia:  “Will Russia Survive 2024?”

According to the conference organizers, Russia is at a crossroads. Over the past two decades, a country that may have been a fading democracy but was still on the road to European integration has been transformed into a neo-totalitarian state, terrorizing its population and pursuing the most aggressive policy towards its neighbours, which, in Russia’s view, are either in its sphere of influence or, worse, are “fake states” that shouldn’t exist. Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has become the greatest threat to world peace. The Russian Empire, which was taken over by the Bolsheviks in 1917 and transformed into the Soviet Empire, has become a fusion of the imperial ambitions of Russia and the Soviet Union. Although it claims to be recovering its former greatness, the signs of impending imperial collapse are in fact becoming more frequent.

Leonidas Donskis. R. Ščerbauskas photo

What steps need to be taken to stop Russia from threatening its neighbours? Is it possible for Russia to return to the international civilized world? How can the people of the Russian Federation be helped to build a democratically governed state (or states) that operates in accordance with international law? How can we ensure that those responsible for crimes in Ukraine and other countries under attack are brought to justice? Experts will be looking for answers to these questions on 21 September.

“Will Russia Survive 2024?” will bring together diplomats, security experts, public figures, journalists and human rights activists from the United States, Finland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Cyprus, Denmark, Ukraine and Russia. Program: https://rb.gy/hcm56  

“The title of this year’s conference is a provocative one, and we chose that on purpose. To us, it is clear that dealing with Russia nowadays is not an issue of containment. Enough is enough – it is time that the criminal regime in the country comes to an end and that future Russia ceases to be a menace to its neighbours and the rest of the world. The last imperium in the world should be decolonized. How – that is a matter of debate and that we will discuss on September 21, marking the death of the great Lithuanian Leonidas Donskis”, says Robert van Voren, organizer of the conference and Director of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development.

The organizers stress that, unlike previous conferences, this one will not be webcast and will be live. Interested parties are invited to register here:  https://rb.gy/kfziv

After the conference, participants will be invited to a concert dedicated to the memory of Leonid Donskis, featuring Lithuanian cellist Justas Kulikauskas and Dutch-Russian expert and concert pianist Sara Crombach.

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