STAVROPOL/MOSCOW, November 21 (RIA Novosti) – Prosecutors in southern Russia have ordered several books, including works by celebrated author Vladimir Nabokov, to be pulled off the shelves of school libraries in what they say is a drive to protect local children.
Kurbangali Sharipov, who handles minors’ issues in the Stavropol regional prosecutor’s office, said unspecified books by Nabokov were being banned for “mystical” content. He did not elaborate.
Other banned work included verse collections by arguably the country’s most popular poet, Sergei Yesenin, who died in 1925. Sharipov on Wednesday described the poet’s work as featuring “hooligan” verses.
Books by romance novelists Danielle Steel and Juliette Benzoni, award-winning children’s books author Sharon Creech and several Russian fantasy authors were also blacklisted from regional school libraries, the prosecutor said.
“Look at police communiques, we’ve got children aged nine to 12 committing robbery. What do you think they’re reading?” Sharipov said.
Prosecutors said they were fulfilling a law enacted last year designed to protect children from “harmful information.”
Acting Stavropol regional Governor Vladimir Vladimirov slammed the move Wednesday, however, rejecting allegations of Yesenin’s and Nabokov’s “amorality.”
Prominent blogger Anton Nossik speculated that by describing Nabokov as a mystical writer, Sharipov may have confused the author with Mikhail Bulgakov, whose popular masterpiece, “The Master and Margarita,” describes a visit by Satan to Stalinist Moscow.
The “harmful information” law, which was criticized for its overly vague legal definitions, has previously led to the “Itchy and Scratchy Show” segment being edited out of the Russian version of “The Simpsons” cartoons.
In an unrelated development, a member of the Public Chamber, a pro-Kremlin advisory body on human rights, called in March for a ban from schools of 19th-century Russian literary greats, including Gogol and Dostoyevsky.
The works of those authors, the Public Chamber official said, were subversive and fostered revolutionary sentiments among students.