Ukraine approves law banning pro-Kremlin Russian books

Ukraine approves law banning pro-Kremlin Russian books

Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:37AM

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed into law a bill banning the import of Russian books deemed to glorify the Kremlin, a move expected to further damage Kiev-Moscow ties.

The new legislation adopted on Friday “prohibits the promotion of aggressor states … or [books] that create a positive image of this aggressor state.”

The new measure, which was introduced in September, also forbids literature that urges state coups or promotes wars and racial hatred.

The new law tasks a group of experts to decide which Russian books are acceptable in terms of their content.

Critics, however, have criticized the measure as suppression of free speech.

The legislation is “undoubtedly needed to counter the lies told,” but “it is not clear that this law, nor previous legislative initiatives achieve that aim, while being guaranteed to elicit accusations that Ukraine is introducing censorship,” said Halya Coynash from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Back in 2015, the Ukrainian State Television and Radio Committee banned 38 books published in Russia, arguing that the measure was aimed at “safeguarding Ukrainian citizens against the use of information warfare.”

People hold Russian flags as they celebrate a referendum on seceding from Ukraine and rejoining Russia, in Lenin Square in Simferopol, Crimea, March 16, 2014. (Photo by AP)

Relations between Russia and Ukraine soured in March 2014 when the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula reintegrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.

Since then, Kiev has been engaged in a military crackdown on pro-Russia forces fighting for greater autonomy in the Donbass region – the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The crisis has left more than 9,600 people dead and over 22,400 others injured.

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