Ukraine’s parliament has voted on two laws imposing strict restrictions on Russian books and music as Kyiv seeks to break many of the cultural ties left between the two countries in the wake of the invasion of Moscow.
One law prohibits the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they give up their Russian passport and obtain Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those with Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of Soviet rule.
It would also ban the commercial import of printed books into Russia, Belarus and the occupied Ukrainian territories, while also requiring special permission to import Russian-language books from any other country.
Another law would ban the playing of music by Russian citizens after 1991 in the media and on public transport, while increasing quotas for Ukrainian-language speech and music content in television and radio broadcasts.
The laws must be signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky for them to take effect, and there is no sign of his opposition either. Both received broad support from across the room on Sunday, including from lawmakers who have traditionally been seen as pro-Kremlin by most of Ukraine’s media and civil society.
Ukraine’s culture minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, said he was “happy to welcome” the new restrictions.
“The laws are designed to help Ukrainian authors share high-quality content with the widest possible audience, who, after the Russian invasion, have not accepted any Russian creative product on a material level,” he was quoted as saying by the Ukrainian Cabinet’s website.
The new rules are the latest chapter in Ukraine’s long road to undoing the legacy of hundreds of years of Moscow rule.
Ukraine says this process, formerly referred to as “de-communism” but now often called “depoliticization”, is necessary to undo centuries of policies aimed at crushing Ukrainian identity.
Moscow disagrees, saying that Kyiv’s policies to entrench the Ukrainian language in everyday life persecute a large number of Russian speakers in Ukraine, who it claims supports their rights in what it calls its “special military operation”.
This process gained momentum after Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and its support for separatist proxies in Donbass, Ukraine, but took on new dimensions after the massive invasion began on February 24.
Hundreds of sites in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, have already been designated to be renamed to give up their ties to Russia, and a Soviet-era memorial celebrating the friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian people was demolished in April, drawing cheers from the community crowd.
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