Verdict on Yury Vynnychuk’s poem to come from Donetsk
The Lviv Regional Department of the Ministry of the Interior has sent the poem by Yury Vynnychuk “Kill the bugger” [“Ubiy pederasta”] to the Donetsk Court Assessment Institute. They are to decide whether the poem is pornographic, or whether it contains calls to violence against representatives of the authorities. How are the experts supposed to reach such a verdict in a research institute and why has the poem been sent to Donetsk?
The scandal broke out after Yury Vynnychuk read out the poem at a book fair in Kyiv last autumn during a “Night of Erotic Poetry”. The poet calls his work metaphorical. However Communist MP Leonid Grach lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office claiming that the poem contained both pornography and a call to violence against the authorities.
The Director of the Donetsk Court Assessment Institute, Hennady Druzhynin confirmed that his institute would be analyzing the poem. He asserts that such an assessment can be done by a person with special knowledge.
Asked why the poem was sent to his institute, he said that “there is the possibility here to carry out unique types of studies”.
Yury Vynnychuk says that this is logical. “The National Morality Commission did not see anything in these poems. Well and Donetsk is ready to answer as the party demands”.
In January the Ukrainian PEN-Club issued the following statement:
On the Political Persecution of Writer Yury Vynnychuk
According to media reports, on 23 January this year police officers arrived at the home of Lviv writer Yury Vynnychuk and demanded written explanation regarding a poem he read out a few months ago at the festival “Night of Erotic Poetry” in Kyiv. According to the police, the reason for this was a complaint lodged by Verkhovna Rada Deputy from the Communist Party Leonid Grach with the Prosecutor’s Office. Grach asserted that the poem was pornographic and also contained calls to the violent overthrown of the current regime.
The writer rejects these allegations as totally absurd and considers interference by politicians, prosecutors and civil servants from the so-called “National Commission for the Protection of Public Morality” to be entirely unlawful.
The Ukrainian PEN Centre shares Yury Vynnychuk’s view that the actions of the authorities are unlawful. It would draw the attention of the Ukrainian and international community to the dangerous trend seen in the restoration of political censorship in Ukraine and the ever more numerous examples of pressure by the police, Prosecutor’s Office and Security Service on writers, journalists, academics and civic activists. Over the last 2 years under Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency, this has become a systematic trend.
The Ukrainian PEN Centre calls on the authorities to stop political persecution in Ukraine, restrictions on freedom of speech and interference in literary and artistic activities. We call on Ukrainian writers and artists, as well as our colleagues overseas to join their voices to our protest.
Vice Presidents of the Ukrainian Centre of the International PEN-Club, Andriy Kurkov and Mykola Riabchuk
See also Casus Vynnychukus and Freedom of Speech