Excise tax on Russian books in Ukraine will not protect Ukrainian literature

Author : Andrey Kokotiukha

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian writer Kokotiuha: The needs of those who live in an authoritarian country differ from the needs of those who have chosen democracy and are moving forward, moving to the West
16:58, 6 September 2017

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Ukraine is going to introduce an excise tax on Russian books. This was one of the hottest news of the first Monday of this September. This idea was voiced by Viktoria Syumar, chairman of the committee on freedom of speech and information policy, on the eve of the start of the next parliamentary season. According to her, such a step should protect Ukrainian book and contribute to the fight against piracy. At the same time, Syamar made a very revealing clarification: "Despite our laws, the Russian book gets here illegally."

The people's deputy voluntarily or unwittingly confirmed the deplorable fact: in Ukraine, a lot of negative things happen despite the existence of laws. There is a firm impression that laws in our country are not needed and are not binding even for the lawmakers. An example is the legislatively fixed ban on Russian films and serials, which came into effect two years ago. The situation with film distribution is even more or less acceptable, because, without prohibitions, Russian films have failed in the Ukrainian film distribution. But private TV channels that dominate in our information space allow themselves to cheat. Legislators are appropriately mentioned here, because among the deputies there are those who directly or indirectly are involved in media groups, who certainly know about violations, but ignore the laws. The laws, for which they vote themselves.

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The will work in full under two conditions. The first is when punishments are provided for violations and offenders will be punished indeed. Second - if the law on limitation is balanced by laws on the resolution, assistance, benefits for the Ukrainian products.

The initiative proposed by Viktoria Syumar was already appreciated by political analyst Oleksiy Golobutsky. He wrote: "It is just great from all points of view! We have our own publishing houses, so let the Russians go to them. Let them pay for the printing, for the distribution networks. Although it is easier to pay our translators for translation into Russian." I believe, Ms. Syamar's proposal to create a Facebook and Google representative office in Ukraine is more logical than the translation of Ukrainian works of Russian literature.

Currently, Ukrainian segment of Facebook is controlled from Russia. Examples of this are the numerous blocking of Ukrainian users for "hate speech" and other "Russophobia". But the pro-Russian messages live and win. Therefore, the office of this corporation located  in Kyiv and even other cities is not enough. But it is also not enough to have a bill that provides for excise tax on a Russian book. Finally, we need to define the concept of "Russian book".

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It is necessary to divide books –  those published in Russia belong to the first category, while the other is created in Russia. In the first case, this is translated literature (fiction to technical literature). American or Scandinavian detectives, French or British romance novels, laureates of Pulitzer, Gonkurov and other prestigious international prizes are translated into Russian faster than in Ukrainian. Therefore, the introduction of excise tax on such literature, printed in the aggressor state, can really help the book networks and publish houses expand their range. However, the best way is to translate all this from the original language and in the same volumes as it is done in Russia.

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But Russian authors who now live and work in the Russian Federation should be legally cut off from the Ukrainian reader. The excise or translation will not help here. Texts written by Russian citizens meet primarily the needs of the Russian reader.

The needs of those who live in an authoritarian country differ from the needs of those who have chosen democracy and are moving forward, moving to the West.

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