Booksellers in Russia are forced to remove history books from shelves after new legislation banning Nazi symbols from front covers.
The new rules appeared alongside the amendments which forbid writers to establish an equivalence between Nazi and Stalinist crimes.
In nine recommendations Sent by the Russian Book Union, bookstores were urged to remove books that risked violating the new legislation. When booksellers asked for more details, they were referred to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“If there are big, big pictures on the cover, then it is clear that such popularization, of course, is absolutely unnecessary and unacceptable by law,” Peskov said in quotes brought by Kommersant. “If we’re talking about reference information, some images that are only inside the book and not on the cover, then that’s another matter.” The Ministries of Justice, Finance and Culture would now work together to clarify the new amendments.
The law is already generating changes in the Russian publishing industry. Featured illustrator Andrey Bondarenko told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta as its cover for Stephen Fry’s book How to make history was rejected because it depicted a rat with a Hitler mustache in a Nazi cap. The story itself, meanwhile, follows a man who wants to rid the world of Nazism, stepping back in time to stop Hitler’s birth by damaging the street water supply that houses the parents of the future dictator. Bondarenko was reportedly informed by his editors: “these are Nazi symbols, according to the law, nothing like this can be represented”.