Ukraine to ban Russian books, music in latest cultural break from Moscow

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 Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday June 19, voted through two laws which will place severe restrictions on Russian books and music as the Kyiv government seeks to break all remaining cultural ties with Russia following Moscow’s invasion.

One of the new laws will forbid the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they renounce their Russian passport and take Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of Soviet rule.

It will also ban the commercial import of books printed in Russia, Belarus, and occupied Ukrainian territory, while also requiring special permission for the import of books in Russian from any other country.

Another law will prohibit the playing of music by post-1991 Russian citizens on media and on public transport, while also increasing quotas on Ukrainian-language speech and music content in TV and radio broadcasts.

The laws need to be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to take effect, which is a walkover as he has given no indication he opposes the law. 

Both laws received broad support from across the chamber, including from lawmakers who had traditionally been viewed as pro-Kremlin by most of Ukraine’s media and civil society.

Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko on Sunday, June 19said he was “glad to welcome” the new restrictions.

“The laws are designed to help Ukrainian authors share quality content with the widest possible audience, which after the Russian invasion do not accept any Russian creative product on a physical level,” the Ukrainian cabinet’s website quoted him as saying.

The new rules are the latest chapter in Ukraine’s long path to shedding the legacy of hundreds of years of rule by Moscow.

Ukraine says this process, previously referred to as “decommunisation” but now more often called “derussification,” is necessary to undo centuries of policies aimed at crushing Ukrainian identity.

Moscow disagrees, saying Kyiv’s policies to entrench the Ukrainian language in day-to-day life oppress Ukraine’s large number of Russian speakers, whose rights it claims to be upholding in what it calls its “special military operation.”

Hundreds of locations in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have already been earmarked for renaming to shed their associations with Russia, and a Soviet-era monument celebrating the friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian people was torn down in April, eliciting cheers from the assembled crowd. 


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