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Ukraine Librarian Detained In Moscow Falls Ill, Claims Was Framed

  • RFE/RL

Natalia Sharina: "I didn't do anything illegal.":

Natalia Sharina: "I didn't do anything illegal.":

The detained head of the Russian Library of Ukrainian Literature has fallen ill in custody and claims Russian authorities framed her by planting extremist books in her collection.

"She said they had planted a large batch of books during the searches," Russian rights activist Zoya Svetova told the AFP news agency on October 30 after speaking with Natalya Sharina, the 58-year-old library director detained by Russian authorities.

After the library was raided October 29, Russia's Investigative Committee said authorities had found books by Ukrainian ultranationalist author Dmytro Korchynsky, whose works are banned in Russia. It charged Sharina with inciting ethnic hatred and violating human dignity by distributing such books.

While Sharina was not present at the library when it was raided by armed, masked police, who carted off about 200 books, her deputy, Vitaly Krikunenko, said the library did not keep Korchynsky's books and called the accusations against her "absolute nonsense."

Sharina denied the charges in the Taganka district court in Moscow on October 30.

"I didn't do anything illegal," she said. "The library staff examined the new arrivals carefully and as soon as one or another titles was added to the list of extremist literature, we immediately excluded them from general public access."

Library employees say any extremist books purportedly found by investigators were planted to create a pretext for the raid.

Tatyana Muntyan: "They planted these books."

Tatyana Muntyan: "They planted these books."

Tatyana Muntyan, an employee, said she had personally seen investigators plant banned books in the library the day before the raid.

"They brought books with them which were included on the list of extremist literature," Muntyan told Reuters. "I saw it. The books they brought did not have our stamp inside them. They planted these books."

The investigative committee did not respond to the charges.

Meanwhile, Sharina fell into a health crisis while under detention, suffering several bouts of extreme high blood pressure which required treatment by medical personnel, her lawyers said.

Russian news agencies said the court decided October 30 to put Sharina under house arrest and charge her with incitement of ethnic hatred. That crime can result in up to four years in prison.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, TASS, and Interfax