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Russian sex row author faces jail

Vladimir Sorokin is the first to face pornography charges since 1991
Vladimir Sorokin is the first to face pornography charges since 1991  


MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian author is facing pornography charges after describing a sex scene involving former Soviet leaders in one of his novels.

Vladimir Sorokin faces up to two years in prison over a chapter in his 1999 novel Blue Lard, which is said to contain foul language and describes clones of dictator Josef Stalin and his successor Nikita Khrushchev having intercourse.

CNN's Ryan Chilcote said free speech advocates fear the move signals a resurrection of censorship in Russia.

Moscow prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov said: "In deciding whether or not to initiate a criminal case, law enforcement agencies cannot be guided by anybody's (individual) tastes.

"Experts came to the conclusion that readers of a novel by Sorokin were right in interpreting certain passages as elements of pornography."

Sorokin is the first in Russia to face pornography charges since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Sorokin is charged with distributing pornography (July 24)

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Last month the youth organisation Moving Together, which says it has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, held a demonstration against literature they allege degrades traditional Russian society and tore up 6,700 books, including some of Sorokin's, in front of TV cameras.

Moving Together leader Vasily Yakemenko said: "The fascists burned books. We don't burn them. And we're not even fighting books. We're fighting pornography, immorality, cynicism, and the humiliation of our culture."

The protesters threw books by Sorokin and Karl Marx into an oversized cardboard toilet outside Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, which is considered the benchmark for high Russian culture and has also commissioned a libretto from Sorokin.

Sorokin told CNN's Moscow bureau: "It reminds me of the days of the fascists, and the Chinese cultural revolution.

"This may be the beginning of a new policy on culture. There are people in the Kremlin who want to domesticate culture, to turn it into a well-behaved pet."

Josef Stalin is cloned as sex symbol in Sorokin's The Blue Lard
Josef Stalin is cloned as sex symbol in Sorokin's The Blue Lard  

Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi told Moskvy radio on Thursday: "A criminal case should not be opened against a writer, for writers can write whatever they see fit or want. This is written in the Constitution.

"The fact that the organisation Moving Together is puffing up this story and associates it only with the writer Sorokin is extremely incorrect."

Sorokin is highly regarded for combining an avant garde style with Russian realism in his writings.

He is a critic of the spread of official Soviet literature, and says his book is about the death of free speech in Russian literature. He insists the sex scenes were not intended to be pornographic.

Sorokin said: "I'm not a pornographer. A pornographer is someone who has to give the reader an erection. That's why they make their money. I'm not at all interested in my readers getting erections."

The Bolshoi Theatre insists it will stick to its commissioning agreement with Sorokin, while the Kremlin distance itself from the controversy.

But the furore has not been without benefit to Sorokin -- his book sales have tripled since the charges were brought against him.

-- CNN producer Ryan Chilcote contributed to this report



 
 
 
 







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