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22 Jun, 2023 15:56

Zelensky bans Russian books

The Ukrainian president has signed a controversial bill outlawing the import of Russian and Belarusian publications
Zelensky bans Russian books

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced on Thursday that he had signed a law making it illegal to import and distribute Russian and Belarusian language products in Ukraine. However, some Ukrainian officials have pointed out that the step could hinder Kiev’s plans to join the EU. 

The move comes after Ukrainian citizens registered an online petition on the official presidential website asking for the ban, back in May. The petition reached the 25,000-vote threshold required for it to be formally considered by the head of state. 

The author of the petition noted that the Ukrainian parliament had already approved the law on June 19, 2022, but that Zelensky had never signed the bill. As a result, Russian books continued to be sold in Ukraine, which undermines “the information security of the state and the economic foundations of Ukrainian book publishing,” according to the petition.  

“I consider the law to be correct,” Zelensky stated in a Telegram post announcing that he had finally signed the legislation. 

He noted, however, that the text of the legislation had been sent to EU institutions for an “additional assessment” of whether it could breach Kiev’s obligations to protect minority rights, particularly linguistic ones, in the context of Ukraine’s application for EU membership. 

In a written response to the petition last month, Zelensky explained that there had been a “number of reservations” that prevented the law from being adopted. 

The president stated that Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice had proposed applying the right of veto to the bill, arguing that completely banning the import and distribution of Russian publications would contradict several articles of Ukraine’s constitution. 

Additionally, Zelensky said that despite agreeing with the nature of the law, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had also advised vetoing the bill. The ministry had warned that its current version “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.”

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