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RUSSIA

Independent Moscow bookstore faces ‘pornography’ charges

4 min

Times are tough for Russian intellectuals. A Moscow bookstore is facing prosecution for the illegal distribution of pornography. If the case goes ahead, Boris Kupriyanov, the owner of Falanster, a popular bookstore-cum-gathering spot for the city's intellectuals, could face up to two years in jail. Falanster also faces closure. The charges are based on the sale of several popular books, including Virginie Despentes' Baise Moi and Lydia Lunch's Paradoxia: A Predator's Journey, which have been confiscated and declared "pure pornography". one of our observers for Russia, contacted the owner of the bookshop.

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Times are tough for Russian intellectuals. A Moscow bookstore is facing prosecution for the illegal distribution of pornography. If the case goes ahead, Boris Kupriyanov, the owner of Falanster, a popular bookstore-cum-gathering spot for the city's intellectuals, could face up to two years in jail. Falanster also faces closure.

The charges are based on the sale of several popular books, including Virginie Despentes' Baise Moi and Lydia Lunch's Paradoxia: A Predator's Journey, which have been confiscated and declared "pure pornography". But some of the confiscated books are openly stocked and sold in other Moscow bookstores as well as Russia's online site, ozon.ru.

While reiterating that Falanster is not a political organization, Kupriyanov notes that the number of independent intellectual enterprises in Moscow has been dwindling in recent times.

Ostap Karmodi, one of our observers for Russia, contacted the owner of the bookshop. Post your questions to him on his profile page.

No pity for the liberals

Blogger Occuserpens thinks that the prosecution is fair.

We'll wait and see, but I hold no pity for Falanster. The entire story is a typical right-wing liberal whine-fest: they are fighting for their ‘right' to sell porn and Nazi propaganda. If Falanster manages to get out of its troubles with authorities, good for them, and if it doesn't - well, it's nobody's business but theirs."

Posted 16 December 2007

What's wrong with pornography?

Vitali Chernikov is a blogger from Voronezh. He feels the petitioners are missing the point.

For some reason, the petitioners are trying to convince the authorities that all books condemned as pornographic are highly artistic, and if they are artistic, there's no reason to arrest someone.

I think they're taking a wrong stance: why should it make a difference if the books are pornographic? What's wrong with porn? Those who don't like it are free to choose a book from the next shelf."

Posted 17 December 2007

Bloggers line up to sign a petition against the action

Hundreds of bloggers have already signed a petition demanding an independent enquiry:

The literary community of Russia protests against the criminal case against Boris Kupriyanov, the director of Falanster. Falanster is one of the best bookshops in Moscow, selling contemporary science and philosophy books, as well as intellectual fiction. Books that the shop is distributing reflect modern culture in our country and abroad and are in no way pornographic. They demonstrate high levels of artistic achievement. By signing this petition, we claim our readiness to counter the decision taken by the Institute of Culturology regarding some of the books sold in Falanster that have fallen under suspicion from the authorities. We offer our services as independent auditors."

Commentary from Boris Kupriyanov

Unfortunately, it seems that the authorities are trying to shut down places where intellectuals come to share their thoughts with each other. I think the initiative belonged to local authorities. But whoever is behind this, it's hard to deny that with each year, there are less and less independent places left in Moscow.

It started about a month ago when the police came to the shop and confiscated some books. After that, we had a surge of weird visitors, enquiring about forbidden books from the publishing house Ultra.Kultura,that closed down about a year ago. Then we got a warning from the prosecutor's office demanding that we stop selling books banned by the Federal Security Service. Finally, last Friday, the local police station asked that I go over to talk to them.

I was forced to write an explanatory note and told that I'm facing a criminal case because all the criteria are met. Evidence [confirming that the books were pornographic] from the Institute of Culturology was cited, but they refused to show it to me. It looks like they are still negotiating things between themselves.

There are many other bookshops still selling these books. Moreover, Lydia Lunch's book had been republished by a major Russian publishing house. I really can't think of any reasonable explanation. We're not a political organisation; we're just a place in downtown Moscow where people come for books and cultural events. We're quite well known, and we have a large selection of books on humanities. Why us? Maybe it's because there are so few intellectual bookshops still open in Moscow. There are only three or four left now."

Video of the bookshop and owner Boris Kupriyanov

Filmed 16 December 2007

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