Russian Blacklist Grows

And so the list grows. On Saturday, the Kremlin added thirty more publications to its blacklist of extremist materials. That makes a total of 61 banned books, music, and films. The first list released in July was mostly a tally of Russian ultra-nationalist and Nazi literature. The sixteen works added in October continued along those lines. The new additions, however, mostly comprise of Muslim texts. The works of Said Nursi were particularly targeted, a move that surprised Russia’s Muslim leaders. “Said Nursi was a proponent of the most tolerant forms of Islam,” Nafigula Ashirov, the co-chair of the Russian Council of Muftis told Kommersant. He added that this seemed to suggest a “new wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Russia” despite his and other Muslims support for United Russia. It appears that Russia’s local courts didn’t get the memo. This past May and September were critical months in this alleged “new wave.” It was then that the Tuimazinskii District Court in Bashkirostan banned the journal Al-Bai and books by Takiuddina an-Nabokhoni and the Koptevskii District Court in Moscow banned a number of Nursi’s works. The blacklist makes anyone in possession of these works subject to criminal prosecution.

National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov called the blacklist “the first steps toward political persecution” and a form of “censorship that violates the Russian Constitution.” Article 29 of the Russian Constitution states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech” and The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited.” Limonov, who has yet to be added to the list, knows what being banned is like. Russian authorities have prohibited and labeled his National Bolsheviks extremist. Andrei Sharov of the state-run Rossiiskaya gazeta, of course, maintains that the courts’ decisions were consistent with the Russian Criminal Code and that the they have “a duty to fight the appearance of extremism including those dressed in the form of articles, literature, film and even music.” Given this view, I’m sure that the list will grow even more with time.