Russia: Ex-Ukraine library boss convicted of inciting hatred

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By Euronews
Russia: Ex-Ukraine library boss convicted of inciting hatred

In a case Amnesty International has denounced as a ‘travesty of justice’, the head of Russia’s only state-run Ukrainian library was convicted on Monday of inciting hatred against Russians.

Natalia Sharina, 59, who has been held under house arrest, denied wrongdoing.

But a court in Moscow gave her a four year suspended jail sentence despite staff testifying that books, deemed anti-Russian propaganda, had been planted in the library by police – an allegation that investigators rejected.

“Not one of our arguments has been taken into consideration,” said Sharina, also found guilty of misappropriating funds

“And at the same time, there has not been a shred of evidence to support any of the accusations during the hearings. Everything became clear during the oral arguments. In her speech, the state prosecutor in fact confirmed that the case was political.”

Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature, which housed a collection of 52,000 books and periodicals, used to be a symbol of friendship between the two countries. But its shelves have now been emptied – a sign of where ties are after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the uprising by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Its volumes have been packed up, ready to be merged into another library’s collection.

Sharina, who will appeal, compared her case to a Stalin-era show trial.

British-based human rights group Amnesty International said her conviction showed “utter contempt for the rule of law” and reflected “the highly charged anti-Ukrainian atmosphere that is prevalent in Russia at the moment”.