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Ukraine bans 38 Russian ‘hate’ books amid culture war

83Ukraine has banned 38 books published in Russia, alleging that they spread “hate ideology” and “separatism”.

The ban includes works by Russian nationalists Alexander Dugin, Eduard Limonov and Sergei Glazyev.

The blacklist was published by the Ukrainian State Television and Radio Committee. It accused Russia of waging “information warfare” against Ukraine.

Ukraine and Western leaders say Russia is fomenting separatism and helping the insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

“Information war” is seen as all part of Russia’s “aggression” against the pro-Western government in Kiev.

Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists exchange artillery fire daily in the Donetsk-Luhansk conflict zone.

Russia also has a blacklist of banned books and other publications, called the Federal List of Extremist Materials. It runs to more than 1,000 banned titles, and is published on the Russian Justice Ministry website.

It includes texts by jihadist groups and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Blowing Up Russia: The Return of the KGB, a book by ex-Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radiation poisoning in London in 2006. UK authorities accuse Russian state agents of killing him.

The Russian books now banned in Ukraine include works called The Ukrainian Front – Red Stars over Maidan, Battlefield Ukraine – The Broken Trident, Forward to the USSR, Superman speaks Russian and Kiev Kaputt.

Nationalists have rallied in Moscow in support of the Donetsk separatists

Sergei Glazyev is an economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin. A prominent Russian TV presenter, Sergei Dorenko, is also a blacklisted author now in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian committee’s statement said the ban was aimed at “safeguarding Ukrainian citizens against the use of information warfare and disinformation methods, against the spread of hate ideology, fascism, xenophobia and separatism”.

Criticising the ban, Sergei Dorenko said it would hardly be effective in the internet age.

Cultural boycott

The hostility between Russia and Ukraine has spread to cultural life as a whole, since Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine has banned films seen as “glorifying” Russian security services and prevented some pro-Putin Russian celebrities from entering the country.

A Russian rapper, Timati, was prevented from performing in Odessa after he expressed support for President Vladimir Putin and made unflattering comments about Ukraine.

Shows by two Balkan star musicians – Goran Bregovic and Emir Kusturica – did not go ahead in Kiev because of their alleged “anti-Ukrainian rhetoric”, BBC Monitoring reported.

In addition, last week Ukraine blacklisted 13 Russian singers and actors, as well as French-born Gerard Depardieu, saying they supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea and pro-Russian separatists. Ukraine’s culture ministry denounced them as a “threat to national security”.

Russian crooner Iosif Kobzon was joined on stage in Donetsk by rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko

The list includes the veteran variety singer Iosif Kobzon, who is already under Western sanctions. He shot to stardom in Soviet times.

Meanwhile, Russian nationalists have lambasted two veteran Russian rock stars – Boris Grebenshchikov and Andrei Makarevich – for their allegedly pro-Ukrainian stance.

Last week Russian media reported that works by two internationally renowned British historians – John Keegan and Antony Beevor – had been banned in Russia’s Yekaterinburg region. Schools were ordered to remove any copies that they found.

In a BBC Russian interview, Beevor said he had been accused of “slandering the Red Army” because he had chronicled mass rapes by Soviet soldiers in World War Two – rapes that were reported in Soviet archives. Many German women committed suicide after being raped.