Armed and masked police raided a Moscow library specialising in Ukrainian literature before dawn on Thursday (October 29), confiscating books they said contained “anti-Russian propaganda”.
The library’s manager, a 58 year old woman, has been accused of “inciting ethnic hatred” and risks up to five years in prison.
“I don’t understand who this is targeting” said Tatiana Muntyan, one of the library’s employees. “The librarians here are Russian citizens and the readers are Russian citizens. Perhaps, because of our name, some people get the impression that this is some kind of stronghold of Russophobia within Russia, or that Ukrainian nationalists created an organization here. That’s just completely wrong.”
Kiev labeled the raid as an attempt by Moscow to intimidate ethnic Ukrainians.
“For Russia’s current political regime, any expression of Ukrainian identity has become a sign of Russophobia. Therefore the Ukrainian language and culture and those who embody it are effectively banned in Russia,” Ukraine’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.
The Kremlin declined to comment.
Tensions are high between both countries since Russia annexed Crimea last year, with Kiev accusing Moscow of sending troops into its country to support pro-Russian separatist rebels.