June 19, 2022
by Kyle Anzalone
Ukraine’s Parliament passed two bills that will restrict Russian music and books. If President Volodymyr Zelensky signs the legislation, it will be a significant step forward in Kiev’s attempt to purge the Russian culture.
The first bill will place heavy restrictions on any author who held Russian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The law will ban the printing of books by Russian citizens, forbid importing the commercial import of any book printed in Russia, Belarus, or “occupied Ukrainian territory,” and requires special permission to import any book in Russian.
In the future, books in Ukraine can only be published in Ukrainian and official European Union languages. Russian is not one of the EU’s official 24 languages. Books in other languages can only be printed in the original language or translated into one of the 25 allowable languages.
The law provides an exemption for Russian authors who renounce their Russian passports and obtain Ukrainian citizenship. The bills make up the latest steps in the process of “derussification.”
The second law bars the playing of any Russian music on media or on public transportation. The legislation also increases quotas for Ukrainian language music and speech on television and radio.
Indications are Zelensky will sign the bills into law. Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko – a member of Zelensky’s Servent of the People party – welcomed the bills. “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,” he said.
The bills are not Kiev’s first effort to stifle the Russian culture in Ukraine. After the 2014 coup in Ukraine, the US-backed government passed several restrictions on the Russian language. In 2018, a movie starring Zelensky – Love in the Big City 2 – was banned because it was produced in Russian.
As president, Zelensky has advanced the culture war. After the Russian invasion, Zelensky removed members of parliament from parties that were deemed “pro-Russian.” He also nationalized Ukraine’s media, giving him further control over the narrative in Ukraine.