The Daily Telegraph

Ukraine clears library shelves of 19 million Russian or Soviet titles

- By Our Foreign Staff

UKRAINE has removed from its libraries 19 million books from the Soviet era or in the Russian language.

Yevheniya Kravchuk, deputy head of the parliament’s committee on humanitari­an and informatio­n policy, said of the millions of books expunged by last November, 11 million were in Russian.

“Some Ukrainian-language books from the Soviet era are also written off,” Ms Kravchuk said, according to a statement published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament.

“There are also recommenda­tions to write off and remove books whose authors supported armed aggression against Ukraine.”

It was not immediatel­y clear what happened to the withdrawn books.

After Russia moved to annex Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Kyiv increasing­ly restricted the use of Russian books. The process of the socalled “de-russificat­ion” sped up when Russia invaded the country nearly a year ago.

In mid-2022 Ukraine restricted the distributi­on of Russian books, seeking to further restrict cultural ties between the two neighbours and undo policies that Kyiv authoritie­s say have suppressed Ukrainian identity for centuries.

“In general, the ratio of books in Russian and Ukrainian languages in our libraries is just very regretful,” Ms Kravchuk said.

“So now we are talking about the fact that it is necessary to renew funds and purchase books in the Ukrainian language as soon as possible.”

She added that about 44 per cent of books in Ukraine’s libraries are in Russian, the rest in Ukrainian or languages of the European Union countries.

Ukrainian is the sole official language. About half of the population speak mostly or only Ukrainian and 30 per cent speak mostly or only Russian, according to a 2019 survey by the Kyiv Internatio­nal Institute of Sociology.

Both Russian and Ukrainian are East Slavic languages, but while most Ukrainians speak Russian, Russians unfamiliar with Ukrainian have difficulti­es understand­ing it.

Russian still plays a large role in business, culture and the media. It is also widely spoken in many cities, including Kyiv, although the use of Russian has been increasing­ly restricted. Legislatio­n obliges businesses and other institutio­ns to use Ukrainian.

Kyiv says that Russia is emptying schools of Ukrainian-language books and in some cases burning them for heating.

The Centre for National Resistance (CNR), which organises intelligen­ce and sabotage operations on Russian-held territory, said that works by “famous Ukrainians” and the history of the Soviet-era Holodomor famine were being destroyed.

The CNR said authoritie­s in Russianocc­upied Luhansk were seizing a list of 365 banned books from municipal and school libraries.

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