International human rights organization Human Rights Watch urged the Russian authorities to drop charges against the director of the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature Natalia Sharina, which is placed under house arrest on charges of distributing extremist literature.
"Russia should stop putting pressure on libraries and undermining freedom of information under the guise of fighting extremism," Human Rights Watch said.
“The detention of a librarian for the materials in her possession is not only an assault on personal liberty, but on every person who cares about ideas and learning and education,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Russian government is sending a crude message that the books on your bookshelves could land you in prison, a disturbing throwback to Soviet times,” he added.
“It’s a vicious circle since as a librarian, your primary duty is to safeguard the collection and give readers access to a plethora of views and interpretations, but that places you at greater risk of arrest under the anti-extremism law,” Williamson stated.
Recalling, Russian authorities have detained the director of the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature, apparently alleging that some of the library’s materials are meant to “incite hatred” toward the Russian people. On October 28, 2015, law enforcement officials took into custody the library director Natalia Sharina, searched her apartment, raided the library, and seized books and documents.