Report: Ukraine Shop Destroying Thousands of Russian Books — Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn

A book shop in Kiev, Ukraine is encouraging people to turn in Russian books to be destroyed — “recycled” — and, so far, more than 150,000 volumes have been ground up and pulped, including books by such great Russian writers as Leo Tolstoy, and most likely Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekov, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

In Kyiv, ABC News correspondent Patrick Reevel reported on Feb. 23, “we’re at a paper recycling plant here, and the reason we’re here is that we’re watching hundreds of Russian books about to be pulped.”

“As you can see, these men are chucking them into this chute and they will go up there and be pulped,” he said. “There’s really all types of books here. I’ve just seen him throw several volumes of Tolstoy, as well as there’s books here about the Soviet victory in World War II. There’s books about Soviet tanks.”

“Basically, this is part of an initiative by a book shop in the center of Kyiv where people can voluntarily bring Russian books they no longer want in their homes to be recycled,” reported Reevel. “They say that they’re not simply destroying books,, that they will be recycled and turned into something, in their words, more useful.”

“But obviously this is a pretty powerful symbol of Ukraine’s rejection of Russian culture,” he added. 


In his tweet report, Reevel links to an online ABC News article, “How the Russia-Ukraine conflict became a cultural war,” written by Guy Davies. The article provides more details about the book shop in Kyiv that is promoting the destruction of Russian books.

Nadia Kibenko, 32, is the shop worker handling the Russian books. “They have recycled 75 tons — around 150,000 volumes — since last July, she said,” reported ABC.  “As a child, Kibenko grew up in a Ukrainian speaking household but, more often than not, only had the choice to read in Russian.”

“We do not burn books,” claimed Kibenko. “We just give them second life.”

Turning Russian books into pulp involves their destruction, but it avoids the Nazi-like overtones of the Third Reich, which also destroyed books it did not like. 

Oleksandra Kovalenko, a student in Kyiv, told ABC News, “I want to get rid of all the books in Russian and instead buy new ones in Ukrainian. I’m disgusted with the Russian language because I’ve lost many relatives in this war. I want to throw it all away.”

In addition to the Russian books, “[t]hings like street and place names have been changed and statues to Soviet leaders have been pulled down, angering the Kremlin,” reported ABC News.  “In 2019, a law was passed that required Ukrainian to be the official language of all government activities.”

h/t ABC News


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