Late at night on October 30, a court in Moscow ruled to have the library director, Natalia Sharina, put under house arrest pending trial.
Russian authorities have detained the director of the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature, apparently alleging that some of the library’s materials are meant to “incite hatred” toward the Russian people, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 28, 2015, law enforcement officials took into custody Natalia Sharina, 58, the library director, and searched her apartment, raided the library, and seized books and documents.
Detaining Sharina over the content of library materials violates her right to “impart information and ideas of all kinds,” protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Watch said. She should be immediately and unconditionally released. If she were convicted of abusing her office to incite hatred, she would face up to five years in prison.
The Ukrainian government sent an official protest to the Russian authorities in connection with the search in Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature, describing the actions of Russian law enforcement as “ruthless and unmotivated.” The head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, said that the council was following the case closely and, highlighting the absurdity of the case, said it was getting ready to deal with “a series of arrests of Ukrainian restaurants’ chefs” in the near future.
Russian media also reported a broader campaign of censorship of library material. The director of Moscow’s First Popular Scientific Library was quoted in news reports as saying that on October 29, the Central Librarian Directorate instructed the library to remove from public display a prominent 2007 academic study by Professor Sergei Abashin, Nationalist Movements in Central Asia – In Search of Identity.
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The shaken employees of a Moscow library specializing in Ukrainian literature accused Russian investigators on Friday of planting banned extremist books on their shelves to create a pretext to raid the library and detain their director.
Armed, masked police swooped on Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature on Wednesday, carting off about 200 books before detaining its 58-year-old director, Natalya Sharina, on suspicion of distributing anti-Russian literature.
A Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on the case.
Sharina, the library’s director, is now being investigated to see if she is guilty of inciting ethnic hatred and of “denigrating human dignity”. She faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
But her employees say she and the library are being framed.
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