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Director of Moscow’s Ukrainian Library Faces a Suspended Five Year Sentence for Extremism

Russian Librarian Natalya Sharina was arrested in October 2015, at the height of the Russian conflict with Ukraine. The 59-year-old Russian who ran a Ukrainian literature library in Moscow was accused of “inciting hatred” for distributing “extremist” books that are “anti-Russian propaganda,” charges that could lead to up to 10 years in prison. But now, after a two-year house arrest, the prosecution has asked for a suspended five-year sentence.

Sharina’s crime, prosecutors say, was possession of a book by far-right Ukrainian activist Dmytro Korchynsky. Sharina’s defense argues the book was planted, but charges against her were expanded to include 25 other “extremist” texts found in her library, including several World War II diaries written by Ukrainian children.

Russia’s Human Rights Center Memorial says the librarian is a political prisoner and that her arrest is part of the “anti-Ukrainian campaign which has continued since the spring of 2014” and the annexation of Crimea.

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