kyiv’s plans to ban books in Russia divide book lovers

kyiv

Ukraine plans to ban many books in Russian as part of a battle against wartime propaganda, but the new law has divided both literature lovers and booksellers.

“We should not confuse Russian fascism with Russian culture,” said Olexander Drobin, bookseller at the massive Petrivka book market in the capital, Kyiv.

“They made this law but nobody knows how to apply it. Should we take these books, pile them in the street and burn them?

Anatoly Gounko, another bookseller in the market, whose wares are almost all in Ukrainian, said the law was “necessary”.

However, he said that even he found it “a little hard to say that you should speak Ukrainian and not Russian”.

“Why should Russian only belong to Russia? Three hundred million people in the world speak Russian.

The Ukrainian parliament approved on June 19 several bills aimed at “protecting culture from Russian propaganda”. The new laws will come into force once signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

They ban all books published in Russia and Belarus, Moscow’s close ally in the war against Ukraine, regardless of the author. Anyone who breaks the law faces a fine.

The use on television and in public places of Russian music composed after 1991 is also prohibited. But enforcing the laws could be tricky.

Books printed in Russian but published in Ukraine or countries other than Russia and Belarus would theoretically still be allowed as long as they were originally written in Russian and the author is not considered “hostile to Ukraine.

The great classics of Russian literature, such as the works of Pushkin and Tolstoy, would also be spared.

Book lovers also seem divided.

“There are more pressing issues. It’s childish,” sniffed Natasha Sikorska, a customer at the market.

“I completely disagree with the banning of Russian literature. This is not Russian propaganda. It’s history. It’s education,” she says.

Her friend, who declined to be identified, disagreed.

“I read a lot of Russian literature. I loved him then and I love him now. But honestly, since February 24, it’s dead for me,” she said.

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