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Ukraine’s ban on books by modern Russian authors arouses surprise, irony in Russia

August 12, 2015, 16:55 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Yuri Smityuk

OSCOW, August 12. /TASS/. Kiev’s decision to blacklist 38 books by Russian authors, historians and journalists for being anti-Ukrainian and to prohibit them from being brought into the country has drawn a wave of surprise and irony in Russia. On the notorious list compiled at the initiative of the state committee for television and radio broadcasting one finds the names of Eduard Limonov, Sergey Dorenko, Sergey Glaziev and Nikolay Starikov. The authors, just as many of their readers in Russia, find Kiev’s idea ridiculous and senseless in the Internet era.

This is not the first "black list" the Ukrainian authorities have drawn up of late. On August 8 the Ukrainian Culture Ministry named those Russian culture workers who were prohibited from entering Ukraine. Also, a ban was imposed on the showing of some Russian films and television serials. Over less than a year Ukraine’s state committee for cinematography annulled or denied screening licenses to nearly 400 films and TV productions from Russia.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has expressed his attitude to this rather peculiar attitude of the authorities in Kiev to matters of culture. "I haven’t yet seen a single feature film produced at the request of Ukraine’s current Ministry of Culture," he told the Russian government-published Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview. "Regrettably, I haven’t been fortunate enough to see any festivals or stage productions or hear the music people there like to listen to. But I keep hearing all the time something has been banned again."

Medinsky believes that "such actions can be laughed at or ignored, but there is no chance of regarding them as well-considered moves."

"I laughed my heart out," one of the banned authors, Eduard Limonov, has told TASS. "On the one hand, this is natural, for I am their enemy. I’ve kept saying since I don’t know when that Ukraine will fall apart. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Ukraine. I know the Ukrainian language and literature. I do know what Ukraine was made of under Soviet government."

Purely Ukrainian, says Limonov, are only nine regions in the centre, while "all other territories are a gift of fortune." Many lands were once controlled by Poland. "I said this and many other things in my book called Kiev Kaputt and in my posts in the Live Journal from November 2013 through January 2015. Of course, the Ukrainian authorities cannot be happy about all that, although my book is written in very polite terms. You won’t find a single strong word in it. Everything is based on my first-hand experience and historical evidence."

The custom of banning books has existed and still exists in many countries.

"There have always been such things. But Ukrainians are very funny people. They are living through their own petty local revolution. A belated one. Their state of mind is that of collective psychosis," Limonov said.

The head of the Russian presidential council for human rights, Mikhail Fedotov, believes that the authors of prohibited books should be grateful to Kiev for this advertising trick, which is bound to have the reverse effect to foment interest.

"In the Internet era it is just laughable. It would have been far easier to impose an Internet blackout," he remarked.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian daily Vesti has said that its journalists staged an experiment at one of Ukraine’s book markets. There they saw that some vendors display the banned books at some prominent place, next to writings authored by the chief of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council, Oleksandr Turchinov.

TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors