Ukraine Bans Some Russian Music and Books

Ukraine’s Parliament voted to ban the distribution of Russian books and the playing or performance of Russian music by post-Soviet-era artists, the latest display of Kyiv fiercely distancing itself from Russian culture.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine must still sign the bills into law. Both bills received broad support from lawmakers across the political spectrum, Reuters reported.

The laws will not ban all Russian media. They only block work by artists who held Russian citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

One law prohibits the playing of Russian-language music in public, on television and on the radio. That same law also increases national quotas for Ukrainian-language music and speech on television and radio.

The other law bans the printing of books written by Russian citizens, unless the authors choose to give up their Russian passports and become citizens of Ukraine. It also blocks the books printed in Russia, Belarus and occupied Ukrainian territory from entering the country or being distributed.

“Administrative liability for the import and distribution of publishing products from russia and belarus, as well as literature included in the Register of anti-Ukrainian publishing products, has been established,” a tweet from the Ukrainian Parliament, called the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said Sunday evening.

This is only the latest effort by Ukraine to control language within its borders. In 2019, the government made Ukrainian the mandatory language used in most aspects of public life, including schools. Russia pointed to this law before its invasion to argue that Ukrainian Russian speakers were under attack.

After that law passed, human rights organizations called on Ukraine to protect the rights of minority language speakers. They were again alarmed when, under Mr. Zelensky, the government began requiring in January that print media outlets registered in Ukraine publish in Ukrainian.

An estimated one in every three Ukrainians speaks Russian at home, according to researchers. Ukraine’s large population of Russian speakers is a legacy of centuries of dominance by its more powerful neighbor. Many Russian-speaking Ukrainians — outraged by the violence of Russia’s invasion — are switching to Ukrainian as a show of defiance.

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