On the evening of May 18, the long-awaited news spread in the media and social networks that the Belarusian authorities had banned the sale of the dystopian novel 1984 by British writer George Orwell in the country. This was reported by the Belarusian publication Nasha Niva, which claims to have a copy of the relevant government order.
As you know, Orwell's book, first published in 1949 and immediately became a world bestseller, was also banned in the USSR, it was declared anti-Soviet. The novel was banned until 1988. In Russia, it has not yet been banned, but even reading this book to oneself in a public place - a metro or a park - can attract increased attention from law enforcement officers. And the owners of bookstores hide it in the farthest corners.
But what Orwell, when even the classic of Russian literature, the favorite of Soviet propaganda, Nikolay Alekseyevich Nekrasov, was also banned - the public reading of his poems turns into completely serious sanctions, as happened with the well-known translator, a member of the PEN-Moscow writers' human rights organization Lyubov Summ. It's worth reminding that on March 31, she tried to read a classic poem written in 1855 in the center of Moscow on Pushkinskaya Square!
The interpreter was escorted to the Tver police department, whose employees drew up a protocol that was striking in its sophisticated logic:
“Summ Lyubov Borisovna demonstrated a means of visual agitation, a poster with the inscription “These are the tears of poor mothers! They will not forget their children, Who died in the bloody field, How not to raise the weeping willow Their drooping branches... Nekrasov, Listening to the horrors of war”, thereby attracting the attention of an unlimited circle of people.
The above visual agitation contains lines from a poem by N.A. Nekrasov “Listening to the horrors of war”, written by the author in the last years of the Crimean War under the impression of Leo Tolstoy’s “Sevastopol Tales”. These works contain the ideology of the overthrow of power, criticism of the ruling regime for justifying violence...
Thus used by L.B. The amount of means of visual agitation is aimed at a negative attitude towards the ongoing military operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
After that, the Tverskoy Court of Moscow awarded Lyubov Summ a fine of 50 thousand rubles under Art. 20.3.3 for "discrediting the Russian army". The appeal filed by her lawyers with the Moscow City Court, as expected, had no effect: on May 17, 2022, the decision of the Tverskoy District Court was upheld.
Here is what Lyubov Summ herself said at a meeting of the Moscow City Court:
“On March 31, I came to the Pushkin monument to read Nekrasov’s poem “Listening to the horrors of war”. In my backpack I had a piece of drawing paper with the final lines of this poem. It turned out that Pushkinskaya Square was cordoned off with an iron fence and guarded by the police. The police officer demanded to see the "poster" and escorted me to the paddy wagon. Thus, both the detention and the subsequent administrative penalty are not even for reading poetry, but for intention.
The protocol drawn up at the police station states: "Listening to the horrors of war" was written under the influence of Tolstoy's "Sevastopol Tales" and these works "are aimed at overthrowing the government for justifying violence." No one specified for what purpose I chose such a text; the judge did not take an interest in this either: the meeting took place in my absence, although I filed a motion to postpone, and I was assured in the office that I would be notified of the new date. And only at the end of the working day appeared on the website of the court information about the decision already made. My right to personal participation in the case and to defense was violated, my position was not heard. The very intention to read the poems turned out to be sufficient to decide that the RF Armed Forces had been discredited.
I do not plead guilty to the administrative offense imputed to me. Rather, such decisions of the police and the court can be considered discrediting, since in classical Russian literature reproach to the actions of the authorities and the Armed Forces is deducted. I turn to a poem that has been part of the school curriculum for more than a century and a half. It is strange to be penalized for reading poems that are heard annually in the classroom.
On the sheet of drawing paper, with which I came to the monument to Pushkin, in addition to lines from the poem, there is a hashtag: Poets. Memory. Poetry is precisely the preservation of memory. Now crumbling - literally, physically - human lives and destinies; Now that which is the basis of the personality and without which there is no people is collapsing - memory. And human ties are torn...
If Nekrasov had not cost fifty thousand rubles, I would have read Lermontov's Valerik, Mayakovsky's Mother and the Evening Killed by the Germans, and Blok's Aviator in the following days. I would have learned “Poems about the Unknown Soldier” by Mandelstam. And Khodasevich’s lines “It’s impossible for me to be myself, I want to go crazy when an armless man goes to the cinema with his pregnant wife” beat in the temple every minute.
I would have gone as far as military poetry - to the "great Russian word" preserved by Akhmatova, to Tvardovsky's "I was killed near Rzhev", to Samoilov, Slutsky and the generation of dead poets.
For me, this is not only a school tradition, but also a family tradition, and I would certainly come out with the poems of my grandfather Pavel Kogan, who fell at the age of twenty-four near Novorossiysk...".