I do have to say that I don’t know Yoann Barbereau. However, I know some of the people who are here tonight defending him and I am joining them because I strongly believe they would never conceal despictable activities. My word has this fragility, and this assurance. It is also because I have travelled and stayed in Russia about thirty times that I had the opportunity to see how little consideration is given to one’s integrity and dignity, and that unfortunately Justice is not a shield against powerful’s violence. Whoever says this is not Russia’s enemy, on the contrary. I would not have spent so much time overthere-as a matter of fact I was in Russia two weeks ago- nor write about this country so often, if I did not have this curiosity and attraction to its history, its culture, its people, which by the way has created a gap between myself and French intellectuals. And it is as a friend of Russia that I stayed several times in Irkoutsk and even attempted a long time ago to give linguistic university‘s students a taste of Henri Michaux and Claude Simon’s writings’ difficult beauties. I am sure Yoann Barbereau was trying to form such links. I remember that as a heritage of the time of the Decembrists deported, Irkoutsk had gained a reputation of enlightened city, a « Siberian Paris ». I would hate that name to become in our memory a symbol of miscarriage of justice and hostility between our countries, a hostility we tonight stand against.
Olivier Rolin is a French writer. He won the Prix Femina in 1994, for his novel Port-Soudan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Rolin