Ukraine issues ban on some Russian music and books

Ukraine issues ban on some Russian music and books


norman lebrecht

June 20, 2022

The Ukraine Parliament voted yesterday to ban the broadcast of music and books written by Russian citizens. The ban applies only to those who held or took citizenship after 1991.

So Shostakovich is OK.

But no Shchedrin.

Small print here.


  • Tamino says:

    Understandable in its human instinct, but wrong.
    Also, following their “logic”, why 1991?
    The only date making sense, would be one, where Russia turned into a foe based on legal grounds. That would be 2014 with the annexation of Crimea. Plus a few years, so someone could have decided to give up the Russian citizenship in opposition to the Putin Regime.

    But with 1991 as the date, they expose this measure as cultural war, this time declared by Ukraine.

    • Jean says:

      Quite superficial date, indeed. To me it would make better sense to put the time limit on when Putin’s regime started.

    • William Osborne says:

      Perhaps it’s because 1991 marked the completion of the dissolution of the USSR. People could become Russian citizens without belonging to any other union of nations.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      Not arbitrary; 1991 was the year Ukraine became independent of Russia/ USSR. So that was the year that people had a choice– what country and citizenship do you want to claim? And they have had years to switch since then; many became Ukraine citizens after the annexation of Ukraine territory.
      Putin is now insisting that Ukraine IS Russian, so no surprise that one way of showing that they are NOT Russian is with language. In other words, by teaching in Russian in schools, they are “supporting” Putin’s false point.
      Many Russian-speaking Ukrainians are now speaking and learning Ukrainian of their own volition, as they want to prove that there is and always has been an independent cultural identity. They do not want their language to support any of Putin’s claims.

      • Tamino says:

        Who had a choice? What?
        What could a Russian writer or composer, who is now illegal in Ukraine, exactly choose in 1991?

        There had never been ONE Ukraine cultural identity. Ukraine has been a multicultural territory most of its volatile history. Except for those times when it was barely inhabited at all, except by Kossaks.

        I doubt we will see peace in that region for a very long time.

  • Patrick says:

    If you’re fighting to ban certain books and music, you’re not fighting for a good cause.

  • V.Lind says:

    Not exactly the way to fight off the Russian accusation that they are “nazis.”

    • Hayne says:

      Let’s not forget Ukraine banned the main opposition party and seized their assets. And let’s not forget the Azov battalion and other far right nationalists that are in the Ukraine military.

  • M2N2K says:

    This may seem excessively indiscriminate to armchair observers in their safe homes, but it is highly unrealistic and probably very unfair to expect and/or demand culturally correct behavioral niceties from people whose country is being systematically destroyed, thousands of civilians tortured and murdered, millions uprooted, hundreds of women and girls brutally raped – for four months now with no end in sight – toward the much larger neighboring country that invaded theirs practically without any provocation.

    • Tamino says:

      Fair enough, but the cultural war started earlier. E.g. when in 2019 Russian language was made illegal in schools, theaters etc. by the Ukrainians. Pushkin was forbidden to be performed in Russian in Kyiev.
      This conflict knows no good guys. Only bad and very bad ones.

      • Brettermeier says:

        Would you mind not spreading Russian propaganda? Thank you.

        Get your facts straight, ffs.

        • Tamino says:

          My facts are straight.
          Russian and Ukrainian language (and many other languages) have coexisted in Ukraine for centuries.
          You take off your propaganda blinders and see all sides clearly.

      • M2N2K says:

        But you are not going back into history nearly far enough: 2019 was already five years after Russia actually started the war by grabbing various parts of Ukraine by military force. And for several centuries before that, Russian and later Soviet (Russian-centered) empires consistently enforced their domination over Ukrainians culturally and otherwise by making them subservient to their aggressively bullish Eastern Slavic “brothers”.

      • MuddyBoots says:

        Ridiculous. There is a vast chasm between the behavior of Ukraine and that of Putin’s Russia. And of course the “cultural war” started before 2019 (???). Russia invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014 and there has been a bloody war going on there since that date. Ukraine has invaded …nobody.

        • Tamino says:

          There was also conflict before 2014. Just try to see reality in its full diversity, not with blinders.

        • Hayne says:

          Donetsk and Luhansk had a referendum to secede from Ukraine in 2014. Hmmm…
          What happened for them to do that?

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Today Shchedrin, tomorrow Shostakovich and Prokoviev, next week Tchaikovsky. And the time is coming for Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Tchekov. And I’m not talking about Ucraine – in the USA some orchestras have already “cancelled” Tchaikovsky.

    I am not especally interested in Russian culture, but it is lamentable that our cultural “smörgåsbord” is becoming less and less diverse at the same time thera are strong forces pushing more “diversity” on the table.

  • Domino says:

    The ban in some cities on teaching literature written in Russian language (including by Kiev-born Bulgakov!) is also worth mentioning, as well as ban on singing in Russian in public in some other cities. Also ban on teaching Russian language in schools, regardless of how many speak it natively.

    • Brettermeier says:

      I’ve heard that schools in England don’t teach in German. I guess we’ll have to invade now.


      • Tamino says:

        What a nonsense hyperbole reply. It’s btw not illegal to teach German in England. Anyone who wants to learn German in England can do so.

      • Just A Thought says:

        You would be better off studying how many people, especially in the East (and South) speak Russian as their main language, instead of making useless comparisons and applying foul language while at it.

    • M2N2K says:

      All of that is a mere tiny trifle when it is looked upon in context with the reality of this truly barbarous “special military operation”, not to mention many centuries of Russian-dominated oppression.

      • Tamino says:

        For the full picture you forgot Polish, Turkish and Habsburgian oppression, as well as the times when the country was almost uninhabited except for some Kossaks.
        It’s no excuse for Russia’s barbarian invasion, but Ukraine was never a solid nation state over the centuries, unlike e.g. Sweden or Denmark.

        • M2N2K says:

          When Poland or Turkey invade Ukrainian territory, we shall talk about that without “forgetting” anything. Meanwhile however, there is no doubt in my mind that Ukrainians would have definitely preferred to “forget” about Russian oppression as soon as possible, if only Russia was not continuously reminding their supposedly brotherly neighbors and the rest of the world about its long bullying history and its present imperious ambitions by unending series of aggressive invasions and other various murderous actions including countless war crimes, but was instead behaving like a civilized humane neighbor, such as for example the current Poland.

    • V.Lind says:

      Reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, when students protested that they had to be taught in Afrikaans instead of in English.

      And Ukrainian doesn’t share the problem of Afrikaans, that of being a language that could die for lack of use. But still, the issue was political there and is is political in Ukraine.

  • Minnesota says:

    Easy to say the Ukrainian decision is wrong if you are not the country that has been violently–and I mean violently–invaded. Putin’s justification literally is that Ukraine really is not another culture or nation, so it is just a bit of housecleaning. Russia’s history of terrorizing Ukraine goes back many years.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    Legitimate issues Russians have over how their culture is treated in Ukraine is hardly helped by invasion, destruction and death.

  • M2N2K says:

    Many otherwise intelligent people among those who grew up and live in the so-called civilized “West” have a pervasive tendency, or rather a strong urge, to look for some kind of moral equivalency between the sides of just about every conflict, which sometimes does make perfect sense, but quite often does not at all. The current events in Ukraine are just such an example of a conflict that is so one-sidedly evil – with the invading army of a much larger nuclear-armed country committing multiple war crimes against civilian population of their much smaller and objectively weaker neighbor every single day, while the other side is simply trying to defend their territory and those who live there as best they can – that any attempt to find anything close to equality of guilt between them is nothing but a grossly obscene perversion of the truth.