Art vs politics: Non / fiction fair banned presentation of Kira Yarmysh's book

Art vs politics: Non / fiction fair banned presentation of Kira Yarmysh's book
23 March , 15:39Culture
The book fair management canceled the presentation of the book by the press secretary of Navalny Kira Yarmysh "Incredible incidents in the women's cell number 3", published by the publishing house Corpus.

The Moscow opposition intelligentsia is vividly discussing on social networks the scandal that erupted over the cancellation of the presentation of the book by Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmysh "Incredible Incidents in Women's Cell No. 3", which was published in the autumn by Corpus. Kira herself, who is now under house arrest, wrote that when the publishing house invited her to participate in the book fair, which opens tomorrow in Moscow, she agreed:

“At the same time, the publishing house agreed on the largest site for me, because we expected a lot of people to come. Then they put me under house arrest, but there was still a faint hope that I would be released by the end of March. My arrest was extended last week, and it became clear that I would not be able to participate. However, it has now become known that the fair management, even before my arrest was extended, had moved my presentation from the large hall to the small one. And after a while they secretly contacted the publishing house AST, which includes Corpus, and asked to remove my presentation from the program altogether.

The publisher Varya Gornostaeva refused to do this and demanded an official refusal letter. The fair management did not send a letter, but made it clear that my presentation would not take place under any circumstances.

That is, the most famous and respected book fair in the country canceled my speech for political reasons. Because I am Navalny's press secretary. At the same time, they are obviously ashamed to admit it, so they tried to do it secretly.

Censorship and self-censorship is one of the worst manifestations of authoritarianism. I consider the decision to shoot my presentation sneaky and cowardly, and I am very sorry that the non / fiction leadership chose this path for themselves. This is not just a dishonest refusal, for me it is a direct complicity of the authorities. Culture cannot be outside politics when injustice occurs in the country. This is not explained by any good intentions to “save the fair”. On the contrary, there is a tacit agreement that authors are divided into permitted and unresolved, and there is something that will sooner or later destroy it.

I am very grateful to the Corpus publishing house, which published my book, and personally to Vara Gornostaeva, who did not become silent in this situation. I am glad that my book was published by them..."

This news caused a real scandal in the ranks of the opposition intelligentsia, which cannot develop a clear position: either to boycott this fair, or vice versa - to go there and express their support for the disgraced writer, or even pretend that nothing happened.

Journalist Kirill Martynov is leaning towards the first option:

The book by Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's press secretary (he is listening to the anthem in the colony, she is under house arrest, a crime of both in attempts to participate in legal politics), was published in one of the most respected publishing houses Corpus as part of EKSMO-AST, a monopolist of the Russian book market.

(...) I am not an expert, but, in my opinion, in the old days and for lesser sins, the Moscow intelligentsia reared up and platforms, as they say now, canceled (from the English cancel - to close, refuse, cancel, cancel, approx .red).

And so I read the news about the cancellation of Yarmysh, and I imagine a terrible scene: on March 24 in an empty Gostiny Dvor the writer Prilepin and the historian Starikov are walking arm in arm, and several onlookers who have got here by mistake are glancing at them.

But it turns out that now is not the time to cancel. You yourself understand what a difficult situation in the country is now. On the contrary, the rows should be held together. The response to the expulsion of the prisoner Yarmysh will be even more active participation in the fair of those who have not yet been expelled or arrested. But with the obligatory mention of this awkward situation.

In general, the logic is clear: you will be expelled today, and me tomorrow. And to admit, I would be extremely pleased if, after the dismissals from the university, the colleagues who remained in it went to the local authorities, holding their fingers with a cross behind their backs - this is also a form of civil struggle in our difficult hour ... "

The book's publisher Varya Gornostaeva herself writes:

“This story is very unpleasant, it is very difficult for me to write about it, but I am convinced that it is impossible to remain silent about it. I just have no choice. (...)

The argument (of the leadership of the fair that canceled the presentation, - editor's note) Is eternal: we must save the fair at any cost, and the performance of the opposition, and even the press secretary of Alexei Navalny, puts the existence of the fair, an important cultural institution, at risk.

I am convinced that such compromises, that is, calling things by their proper names - censorship, is the main danger for any cultural institution. The book fair non / fiction, as we well remember, was created on the principles of humanism, intellectual honesty and independence - including from the state. What is happening today is in direct conflict with her earlier manifesto.

But there is one more consideration that seems to me the most important in our life today. We are talking about human lives and destinies. The fate of people illegally accused of what they did not do.

Kira Yarmysh, like nine other persons involved in a crudely concocted "sanitary case", is deprived of the opportunity to leave the house, she is prohibited from any communication except meetings with lawyers, she cannot write and receive letters herself, use the Internet and the telephone. She is defeated in her rights, in the main human right - the right to freedom. And freedom is exactly what culture should defend. The book community, which by definition should be humanistic, should all the more defend the writer and defend his right to freedom of speech. And what are we doing as a shop? We are silent and frantically looking for reasons for our silence and compromise. Because we are told - “Are you really ready to lose the best fair in the country? Do you want to destroy her? We are outside of politics, we are culture, and culture is outside of politics, don't you know?"

No, culture cannot be outside politics, it is a wrong choice - either politics or culture. And the more willingly we make such compromises, the more surely we will destroy what constitutes the meaning and essence of culture. And we will ruin our beloved fair, which with our participation, or rather with our silence, will inevitably turn into another book supermarket.

I am very bitter to write this, it is bitter that this willingness to be saluted is shown by people whom I have known for a very long time, whom I once considered my good acquaintances, even friends, and who certainly knew how to distinguish between good and evil. But now they contribute to the fact that the evil in our life is becoming more and more..."

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