A librarian is on trial in Moscow for lending “extremist” Ukrainian books

Image: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov
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Tough times are falling on a library in Russia.

Last October, the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was raided by the police. They arrested the library director, Natalia Sharina. Her trial started this week, on Nov. 2.

Sharina is accused of “inciting ethnic hatred and humiliating human dignity,” as well as embezzling 3.5 million rubles (about $54,500) from the library to pay her legal fees.

The librarian has pleaded not guilty. “I do not understand the charge and so I do not feel any guilt,” Sharina said in court.

The prosecution said that Sharina, 59, had procured Ukrainian books, brochures, and a CD for the library that were on a list of banned “extremist” literature, as well as titles deemed “degrading” to Russians. Her lawyer, though, said that they had witnesses who would testify to seeing the police planting the banned books in question when they arrived to search the library.

The library is funded by the Russian government, and has about 60,000 Ukrainian-language books, according to the International Business Times. Employees joke that they see the Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, more often than actual library patrons. The visits and raids reflect ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine and are part of what some see as an “information war” within Russia over Ukrainian books and culture.

Sharina faces a decade in jail if she is found guilty. She’s currently under house arrest.