Ukraine restricts Russian books and music in latest step of ‘derussification’

Ukraine’s parliament has passed two laws that will place severe restrictions on Russian books and music, as Kyiv seeks to sever many of the cultural ties that remain between the two countries after Moscow’s invasion.

A law will prohibit the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they give up their Russian passport and acquire Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet government in 1991.

It will also ban the commercial importation of printed books into Russia, Belarus and the occupied Ukrainian territory, and will require a special permit for the importation of Russian-language books from any other country.

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

The laws must be signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for them to come into force, and there is no indication that he is opposed to them either. Both received broad support from across the chamber on Sunday, 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 said 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 does not accept any Russian creative products on a physical level,” he said, quoted by the Ukrainian cabinet’s website. .

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

Ukraine says this process, previously called “decommunization” but now more often called “de-Russification,” is necessary to undo centuries of policies aimed at crushing Ukrainian identity.

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

This process gained momentum after Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and support for separatist proxies in Ukraine’s Donbas, but took on new dimensions after the start of the full-scale invasion on February 24.

Hundreds of places in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv have already been designated for name changes to shed their associations with Russia, and a Soviet-era monument celebrating the friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples was torn down in April, causing cheers from the assembled crowd.

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