On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he has signed a new law that bans Russian books and publications in Ukraine. It is yet another blow to free speech in the name of war.
The ban prevents any new Russian or Belarusian publications from being imported into the country. Zelensky said of the new law, “I believe this law is the right decision.”
While banning books, Zelensky has also been pushing NATO to accept Ukraine for full membership as soon as possible. However, many observers believe that the new measure could prove to be a hindrance to Zelensky’s NATO goal.
According to The New Voice of Ukraine, “However, the new law has faced criticism and was vetoed by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for potentially violating certain provisions of the Ukrainian Constitution, and for not aligning with EU law.”
“Nevertheless, a petition supporting the initiative gathered enough signatures to proceed,” the publication concluded.
According to Russia’s RT, the measure was signed into law after Ukrainian citizens created an online petition on the presidential website requesting the ban in May. The petition successfully achieved the necessary 25,000 votes needed to be officially considered by the president.
The author of the petition noted that the Ukrainian parliament had approved the measure in June 2022 but said that Zelensky never signed it into law. The petition explained that Russian books continued to be sold in Ukraine, which is claimed to undermine “the information security of the state and the economic foundations of Ukrainian book publishing.”
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The new law is of such significance because much of Crimea and large swaths of Ukraine have populations that are ethnically Russian and speak Russian as their first and sometimes only language. Civil war broke out in the Donbas in 2014 due to the Ukrainian government’s crackdown on the Russian language and culture in the country.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said of the current version of the bill that it, “does not meet the norms and standards of the EU in the field of human rights, including freedom of opinion, protection of the rights of national minorities, prohibition of discrimination on the basis of language, and therefore may complicate the process of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.”
Kyiv has not only cracked down on free speech and expression but has also continuously targeted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which maintains ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, despite the church distancing itself from Moscow and denouncing the Russian invasion, according to a report from ZeroHedge.
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