Ukraine removed 19 million Russian or Soviet books from its libraries

Ukraine removed 19 million Russian or Soviet books from its libraries

Ukraine removed 19 million Russian or Soviet books from libraries

Books, library – illustration photo.

Kyiv – By November of last year, approximately 19 million copies of books published during the Soviet Union or in Russian were removed from Ukrainian libraries. This was reported today by the Reuters agency with reference to the Ukrainian MP Yevhenia Kravchuk. It is not clear what happened to the discarded books.

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“Some books from the Soviet era in Ukrainian were also discarded,” said Kravchuk, who is the vice-president of the parliamentary committee for humanitarian and information policy. According to her, of the 19 million discarded copies, 11 million were in Russian. “There are also recommendations to decommission and remove books whose authors have supported armed aggression against Ukraine,” she added.

After Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine began to increasingly restrict the use of Russian books. The process of so-called de-Russification gained momentum when Russia invaded Ukraine militarily almost a year ago.

In the middle of last year, Ukraine restricted the distribution of Russian books in an attempt to further sever cultural ties between the two neighboring countries and cancel a policy that, according to Kyiv authorities, suppressed Ukrainian identity for centuries.

“In general, the ratio of books in Russian and Ukrainian in our libraries is very pathetic,” Kravchuk said. “That's why we are now talking about the need to restore funds as soon as possible and buy books in the Ukrainian language,” she added, adding that about 44 percent of books in Ukrainian libraries are in Russian, the rest in Ukrainian or other European languages.

Ukrainian is the country's only official language. According to a 2019 survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, about half of the population spoke mostly or only Ukrainian, and about 30 percent spoke mostly or only Russian.

Both Russian and Ukrainian are East Slavic languages, but while most Ukrainians speak Russian, Russians do not speak Ukrainian they only understand this language with difficulty. Russian still plays a large role in business, culture and media. And in many cities, including Kiev, Russian is still often used, although it is subject to increasing restrictions. Legal regulations oblige businesses and other institutions to use only Ukrainian.