Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Nazi Book Burning Redux! Last Words? The Ukraine Bans Dozens of Russian Books

01 You Don't Have to Burn Books


The Ukrainian State Committee of Television and Radio (Goskomteleradio) announced that it’s banned 38 books by Russian authors, prohibiting their import onto Ukrainian territory. Goskomteleradio deputy head Bogdan Chervak did his best to explain the decision, stating that it was “dictated by the need to prevent the Russian Federation from using methods of information warfare and disinformation against the citizens of Ukraine to spread the ideologies of hate, fascism, xenophobia, and separatism”. The list of banned books includes several works by Donetsk-born science fiction writer F D Berzin {he’s also an officer in the patriot army opposing the fascist Uniate junta: editor}, as well as Tom Clancy-style works of fiction predicting the Ukrainian civil war by Ukrainian-born author G L Bobrov {he’ a decorated hero of the Afghan War: editor} and by Georgi Savitsky. The ban also targets books in the areas of political science and social science by Russian scholar A G Dugin, radical political dissident E V Limonov, Russian academic and presidential advisor S Yu Glazyev, and renowned Russian economist Valentin Katasonov. Most of the banned books have some relation to the Ukraine; many of them appeared over the past two years in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis.

Goskomteleradio warned that they’re likely to expand their list of banned Russian books, citing Article 28 of the Publishing Act, which prohibits distributing published works that one could use to threaten Ukraine’s independence, change the constitutional order by force, or violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. The agency launched its initiative early last month, referring to the country’s State Fiscal Service with a request to include Russian books in the list of goods prohibited from import into the Ukraine from Russia. They didn’t clarify what’d happen to those who violated the ban on the import of the banned literature, but noted that they’d confiscate and destroy the books themselves.

Russian authors and social scientists reacted to the ban. Russian pop historian N V Starikov, whose book The Ukraine: Chaos and Revolution: The Weapon of the Dollar made the list, argued that Kiev’s move is an attempt to hide some basic truths. Starikov pointed up that his book had “neither hate, nor a call to separatism, nor fascist ideas… in other words] none of the things listed by the Ukrainian authorities”, adding that by banning his work, the Ukrainian side was trying to hide a simply truth, that “the Ukraine witnessed an unconstitutional seizure of power… [and] come under the external control of the USA”.

Popular Russian radio journalist S L Dorenko, one of whose books also made the list, noted, “In the age of the internet, it’s simply funny for the Ukrainians to try to ban something”. Dorenko referred to the fact that since the internet appeared in countries like the Ukraine and Russia, books are often available on the internet, free, even before being publication and release in bookstores. With e-readers and tablets, the trend has become so pervasive that many authors, especially academics, deliberately release their works online, free, to get a wider readership. In such a situation, it’s questionable how much effect, if any, a ban on physical copies of books would actually have.

The latest ban on Russian media is part of a growing trend. Over the past year, the Ukraine has created and diligently expanded its list of banned Russian media, prohibiting nearly 400 Russian films and television series, issuing a blacklist of Russian artists said to be ”threatening the Ukraine’s national security”, and banning the broadcast of over a dozen Russian television channels on Ukrainian territory for their alleged contravention of Ukrainian legislation. With the pervasiveness of internet and satellite television technology, experts doubt the practical effectiveness of Kiev’s initiatives.

11 August 2015

Sputnik International


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn



For my final blog post, I would, perhaps appropriately, like to talk about a human invention that’s slowly but surely disappearing from our lives… the written page. I mean the actual written page. This isn’t some melodramatic metaphor about the end of higher education or poetry or whatever. The truth is, elderly people with their e-book readers on the Moscow Metro are making me feel like a dinosaur as I sit and dutifully underline sentences I deem most beautiful in my paperback copy of Orhan Pamuk’s latest (friends call me pretentious, but it’s an old habit). Very soon, bookshelves will become as quaint as Victrolas and ornamental piss-pots. It’s good news for the planet’s trees… and bad news for selfish people such as myself, for whom the automated sound of a turning page, standard even for a simple Android app such as Aldiko eBook (perfect for rereads of such public domain classics as the works of Hans Christian Anderson), can’t quite replace the real thing.

I can still remember being a high school student and downloading an excerpt from Stephen King (licensed, of course) onto my desktop computer… then, quickly deciding that if books were going to go electronic, we were going to have to do a whole lot better than that. Well, we have. I predict that eBook design will soon be taught as a major discipline in the humanities… particularly, when you consider just how much one can do with a digital book cover, as opposed to a paper one. However, what on earth will happen to that favourite pastime of reactionary organisations… book-burnings? Let’s all just admit it, breaking out your tinfoil hat, packing a lunch, and driving out to your local book-burning alongside your beloved wife (who, by tradition, is probably also your dear sister), just doesn’t have the same romantic appeal of, say, mutely pressing a “delete” button somewhere.

Surely, eBook deletion will have to gain a public, ritualistic aspect one of these days. Just imagine the technological possibilities! I want to be there to discover just what kind of horrifying and hilarious aspects it’ll take… although I won’t be writing about them in my capacity as the author of Matrix Mama, because this blog’s existence is also coming to an end (although I’m not entirely sure where its place will be on the historic continuum… hopefully, not next to the ornamental piss-pot). To quote a bad movie with a good soundtrack, “It was real, and it was great, and it was really great”.

22 August 2012

Natalia Antonova




Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.