Librarianship: what Natalia Sharina got 4 years probation

Moscow — on Monday, June 5, petty-bourgeois district court of Moscow has announced a sentence to the former Director of the Library of Ukrainian literature Natalia Sharina. She was charged under article 282.2 of the criminal code “inciting hatred or enmity with use of official position” and article 160.3 — embezzlement on a large scale. The prosecution demanded 5 years of probation, judge Elena Gudoshnikova reduced the sentence to 4 years.

Island without politics

Natalia Sharina last year and a half under house arrest and in the library were not working. The institution itself, meanwhile, was disbanded by the Department of culture of Moscow has decided to send funds to the Slavic division of the Library of foreign literature named. Rudomino.

Until the end of 2015, the library on Trifonovskaya street was a classic example of peoples ‘ friendship almost Soviet model. Visitors of the library were mostly older people, nostalgic for our shared past. They went to the evening of Ukrainian poetry, listening to old phonograph records, arranged tea parties, singing and flatly refused to talk about politics: the question of the correspondent DW about the situation in the Donbass, one of the employees said that “culture is the salvation, in particular, and from politics.” The library contains around 25,000 books in the Ukrainian language — from Taras Shevchenko to Hemingway and Houellebecq, translated into Ukrainian.

Director Natalia Sharina, a librarian with years of experience — was only administrative work and the funds were not engaged. “I don’t know the Ukrainian language, but I know how to operate the library,” she said in February 2015, told DW. The content replied by the Deputy Director Vitaly krikunenko — poet, translator, editor, fluent in both languages.

“We collected books from around the world to revive the library of Ukrainian literature, which was here in the twenties,” he told DW. According to krikunenko, then in Moscow there were many national libraries, and Ukrainian have counted as many as 6 branches. “In 1938, all of the national library in Moscow was eliminated and our books were in Lviv. A half-century later, in 1989, these books from Lviv returned to Moscow,” says the librarian.


The problems began in 2009 when one of the library staff, writer Sergey Velichko, Sokurov, quarreled with Sharina. A native of Lviv, Sokurov has long been an active participant in the Russian movement in Ukraine and even received the medal of the International Council of Russian compatriots “For contribution to the unity of the Russian world”. In the early 2000s, he has been forced to leave Lviv in the Moscow suburb of Reutov “under pressure of the Ukrainian national-radicals”, — he reports in his autobiography on his website.

In 2007 he got a job in a Ukrainian library, and in 2010 was dismissed. The circumstances of the conflict with Sharina he later described the confrontation: “In 2009, was published my book on Russian-Ukrainian relations “based on the new Ruins”. I asked Sharina N. G. to make a presentation of this book in the library, but Sharina N. G. said that the Ukrainian public is outraged at the release of this book, and to present this book it is not allowed. The Ukrainian community is bad for my creativity, as I am against any kind of separatism”. Under “separatism” Sergey Sokurov, apparently, meant the separation of Ukraine from the USSR.

“Before leaving, he promised me all sorts of trouble — told Sharina in an interview with the website “Open Russia”. About me he said I was the “orange spot” in the library”. Almost immediately after the dismissal Sokurov in the library was the first search — as part of the audit of SK under article 282. The political relations of Russia and Ukraine then was good, and the case, partly under pressure of the Ukrainian foreign Ministry, was closed. Sokurov-Velichko was dissatisfied. In 2011 at the end of his press conference published a letter from concerned Muscovites Sergei Sobyanin: “We are signing this letter, I hope that you, our new mayor, pay attention to the main problem of the Library of Ukrainian literature”.

After this case, several times opened and again closed. But the appeal of concerned citizens are not left without an answer: by 2016, relations between the countries were damaged, and extremism in the library finally discovered officially. Sokurov-Velichko became the main witness in the case Sharina.

Banned books

Dmitro korchinskiy “Wave to the crowd,” Volodymyr Vasylenko “Holodomor as genocide”, Dmytro Pavlychko “the Voice of my life” — only about 25 names. A large part of the sentence, which the judge read out two-and-a-half hours, was the enumeration of little-known books of Ukrainian nationalists. The circumstances under which these materials came to the library, still remain unclear — Sharina suggests that some of them could be planted during a search, because there is no library stamp. Anyway, in the search report there are books that do remain in the Federal list of extremist materials.

Sharina lawyer Ivan Pavlov believes that it does not matter: “anything to say about the intent Sharina, — he said to journalists after the trial. — It must be proven direct intent to commit a crime under article 282. In itself, storage of materials, even if included in all the terrible lists, does not constitute a crime, for it has administrative responsibility.” Sharina adds that “even if the books were in the library, they were outside of the subscription and reading room. Therefore, it is unclear as I could to distribute them”.

Pavlov said the case is “Klondike violations of all possible conventions and principles” and is going to file a complaint to the ECHR. At the same time, he realizes that Sharina relatively lightly: “In Soviet times was a joke when the judge asked: could you put an innocent man? The judge thought for a long time, then answered: “No, you couldn’t. I would have given conditionally.” Soviet times are coming back.”