Prominent lawmakers and activists appealed to
the Supreme Court chairman Wednesday to reconsider a treason conviction
against Grigory Pasko, a military journalist whose case has MOSCOW
- An iconoclastic Russian writer under investigation for disseminating
pornography in his novel that depicts sexual contact between Soviet
leaders Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev refused to answer police
questions Monday and called the investigation of his writings
"I refused to give evidence because I consider this matter
absurd, vicious and humiliating to me as a writer and humiliating
to Russian literature as a whole," a defiant Vladimir Sorokin
told reporters outside the Moscow police's main investigative
department, where he was summoned for questioning.
Police opened an investigation of Sorokin's postmodernist 1999
novel "Goluboye Salo" — which can be translated
as "Blue Lard" or "Gay Lard" — after
prosecutors deemed parts of the novel pornographic. The book came
to the attention of prosecutors after the pro-presidential youth
group Walking Together filed a criminal complaint accusing Sorokin
of disseminating pornography.
The investigation alarmed advocates of freedom of expression,
who fear a return to Soviet-style censorship under Russian President
Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer who was elected in part on
the strength of promises to restore order to society.
Sorokin has denied that his book is pornography, saying that
pornographic works contain pornographic scenes and nothing else.
He says his novel is about a wider theme — the death of
Russian literature — and defends his use of obscene words,
saying they long ago became part of the popular culture.
The sharpest criticism of Sorokin's works has come from Walking
Together, the pro-Putin youth group, which accuses the author
of contaminating Russian literature. The group has staged a number
of anti-Sorokin demonstrations, including one last month in which
members tore up copies of his books and threw them into a mock
toilet bowl in Moscow.
Sorokin and his publisher Ad Marginem have filed suit against
Walking Together, alleging the group published excerpts of Sorokin's
books without permission and seeking dlrs 150,000 in damages.
About 15 young supporters of the liberal Yabloko party staged
a demonstration in support of the author outside the Moscow prosecutor's
office Monday. The demonstrators, who held signs that read "We're
Defending Art" and "Prosecutors and Censorship are Walking
Together," said the case against Sorokin sets a dangerous
"It's very dangerous that authorities are again beginning
to take an interest in such people and ... their creative work,"
said Yabloko lawmaker Sergei Mitrokhin, who attended the demonstration.
"If we don't stop this in the beginning, we could have a
very difficult time in the future."
Sorokin's lawyer Genrikh Padva said his client had invoked his
constitutional right to refuse to give evidence against himself,
the Interfax news agency reported Monday.
Sorokin has written several novels, plays and a film script,
and his works have been translated into a number of European and
Asian languages. If charged, tried and convicted of disseminating
pornography, he could face up to two years in prison.
Sales of Sorokin's books have reportedly skyrocketed since the
recent controversy, his publisher has said.
of Speech and Media Law in Russia