Fedora-Council/tickets ticket #390: Restrict access to Russian

@msuchy filed Fedora-Council/tickets ticket #390. Discuss here and record votes and decisions in the ticket.

Ticket text:

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I’m not sure if we can do more, nor am I entirely sure that we want to. To be clear: I am personally in support of Ukraine’s defense against an unjustified invasion by the Russian military. However, I’m not sure that any restrictions we try to impose as a project would be meaningful.

First, there’s the technical difficulty. Geofencing is unreliable at best, so we will be hard-pressed to enforce any additional sanctions we impose. Since we have no commercial relationships, we don’t know who is using the software, for what purposes, and there’s no real way to prevent access via intermediary sources.

Second, it stands counter to what we aspire to as a project. As you may already know, we currently cannot accept contributions from (for example) contributors in Iran. Some have rightfully pointed out that this is antithetical to the spirit of open source software. We are working with Red Hat Legal to get an exception similar to what GitHub was able to achieve. To take the opposite approach with Russia sits uneasy with me (although I grant that the recent actions of the Russian government are far worse than those of the Iranian government in my view).

Third, as a practical matter, I don’t see the benefit. Since we cannot stop any embargoed entities from using Fedora Linux, the best we can hope to do is to deny them access to updates. Meanwhile, we’d also be shutting out our Russian community, many of whom strongly disapprove of the invasion of Ukraine. So we’d be harming ourselves while not causing any harm to those we’d wish to sanction.

I totally support the sentiment here. But I think we’re best to follow the embargoes imposed by law and not try to add additional sanctions of our own. I encourage all members of the Fedora community to offer whatever aid and comfort they can to our friends in and from Ukraine.

To that end, here’s a list of vetted charities providing aid to Ukraine:

  • People in Need: People in Need is a nonprofit organization based in the Czech Republic that provides humanitarian aid to more than 50 countries, including Ukraine. They have been delivering water, hygiene supplies, and coal for heating in the winter in Ukraine since 2014 and also provide psychosocial support and consultations to those who are impacted by conflict. “We will use the [Ukraine emergency] funds to provide victims of armed conflict with humanitarian aid, support people fleeing the conflict, help refugees, and protect vulnerable families and individuals."

  • Voices of Children: Voices of Children is a nonprofit organization based in eastern Ukraine that helps children affected by ongoing conflict in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. “We are currently concentrating on providing emergency and psychological support to the victims of the shooting. In the online format our psychologists work with adults and children in Stanytsia Luganskaya, Vrubivtsia, Novoluganskomu. We are also helping some families in need of urgent relocation or finding a home away from the shelling.”

  • Nova Ukraine: Nova Ukraine is a US-based nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine and raises awareness of Ukrainian culture. “For more than seven years, our team has provided humanitarian aid with the Heart2Heart project for the most vulnerable Ukrainians. In the United States, we are preparing to ship diapers for children and adults, baby food, and essentials for hospitals”

  • International Committee of the Red Cross: Red Cross teams already in Ukraine will continue their work to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities with medicines and equipment, and support families with food and hygiene items. The Polish Red Cross is also providing food and first aid materials to refugees fleeing to Poland.

  • Global Giving: Ukraine Relief Fund: Global Giving is a nonprofit organization based in the US that connects donors to vetted, locally-driven organizations around the world. GlobalGiving’s local partners in Ukraine are bringing relief to displaced families and people in high-risk areas. You can donate through their website directly to specific projects in Ukraine or to the overall relief fund.

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@bcotton did an excellent job of capturing my sentiment here also. To add to what he shared, I saw a tweet recently that reminded me of this ticket (linked below), and wanted to weigh in with that perspective too.

As with Iran, companies have chosen to shutter services and offerings to Iranian peoples and now also Russian peoples as well. While well-meaning in the name of standing in solidarity against the violation of human rights taking place in Ukraine now, it does more harm than good to the people who stand to benefit the most by our collective efforts in opposition to harsh authoritarian powers.

But I really think Ben captured it best:

To add to this list, UNICEF is also committed to life-saving campaigns for the 7.5 million children and their families in Ukraine. I admit my bias as an independent contractor for UNICEF. You can donate here.

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My thoughts on this are pretty much right along with @bcotton and @jflory7. I definitely understand the urge to want to do something. Helping the people in Ukraine seems like a positive way to do so.

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I agree with the general sentiment of the other Council members here.

It is worth adding that we will follow our legal obligations, and folks are following closely to see how that will impact Fedora.

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War is bad, but double standard displayed by OP is of cosmic proportions. Are you aware of all wars that USA was/is taking part directly or indirectly? Where is your outrage? Will you ban all US companies/persons from participating? Don’t confuse people with their governments, especially authoritarian ones.

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On that note, perhaps the original objective should be to ban the user vputin, or other individual, specific members of the upper oligarchy/military if those specific members have done something specifically that violates community guidelines or laws.

Blanket-banning Russia and “russian IPs” is futile and misguided.

Reminder to please ensure all commentary is respectful. In Fedora we do our best to not make assumptions about others background or otherwise. As far as I know, OP is not from the US.

Reading through the thread, it seems to me the general response/sentiment is not in favor of taking any action, unless mandated by law. There have also been some very useful links shared so that folks can provide support to Ukraine.

The Ukraine/Russia conflict is likely to bring up feelings in many Fedorans, all for different reasons. As I said in my earlier comment, I think the desire to do something is understandable. Let’s not make that thing be escalating this thread or being hurtful to each other.

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