IFLA is very disappointed at the outcome of the case, even if her release from house arrest is a positive step forwards. It supports Natalya in her appeal and wishes her well with the outcome.
IFLA calls on the authorities in Russia, and around the world, to bring the banning of books and the persecution of librarians to an end. For the good of their citizens and civil society, governments must recognise and support libraries in their role as gateways to knowledge, thought and culture.
NOTE: infoDOCKET has been following and posting about this story since October 2015. At the bottom of this post you’ll find links to a number of these posts.
From Radio Free Europe:
A Russian court has convicted the former director of Moscow’s Ukrainian Literature Library of inciting hatred in a ruling that Amnesty International said displayed “utter contempt for the rule of law.”
In a June 5 verdict that followed a closely watched trial, the Meshchansky District Court also found Natalya Sharina guilty of embezzlement and handed her a four-year suspended sentence.
[Sharina said she will appeal the verdict.]
The hate-crime charge against the 59-year-old librarian stemmed from the Russian state’s claim that her library’s collection included books that are banned in Russia as extremist, including works by Ukrainian ultranationalist Dmytro Korchynskiy. Police have have been accused of planting some of the banned books at the state-run library.
Sharina, who was under pretrial house arrest for most of the time after she was detained, has rejected all the allegations as politically motivated. The respected Russian human rights group Memorial considered her a political prisoner.
“This highly politicized case runs totally counter to justice and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary. Natalya Sharina should not have been prosecuted, still less convicted,” Denis Krivosheev, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said following the verdict.
From the BBC:
Speaking in court, Natalia Sharina, 59, said she was shocked, and insisted that the banned literature had been planted in the library by police.
[Our emphasis] “The state prosecutor admitted herself during the proceedings that this was a political case,” she told reporters after the ruling.
From The NY Times:
The state prosecutor argued that it was Mrs. Sharina’s obligation to filter all incoming books and destroy any anti-Russian ones.
“The accused is part of a complicated mechanism aimed at denigrating and discrediting the Russian culture,” said the prosecutor, Lyudmila A. Balandina, in her closing statement in court. She added: “This can affect any of us. The Ukrainian nationalism, which went hand in hand with German Nazism, is on the rise again.”
The conviction of Natalya Sharina, former Director of the state-run Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, for holding ‘extremist books’ demonstrates utter contempt for the rule of law and highlights flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary, said Amnesty International today.
“This highly politicized case runs totally counter to justice, and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary. Natalya Sharina should not have been prosecuted, still less convicted,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.