Top Russian novelist ‘targeted in gay propaganda probe’
One of Russia's most respected novelists, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, claimed Friday she is part of an investigation into alleged "gay propaganda" over a series of children's books she compiled.
Russia’s controversial law banning promotion of LGBT relationships to minors has prompted criticism from international leaders and athletes ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics that open Friday.
Ulitskaya, along with more than 200 writers including Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, signed an open letter in Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Thursday, attacking the anti-gay legislation.
In a statement sent to AFP, she said the powerful Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, had summoned the author of a book about gay families which was part of a series she had compiled.
The book, “The Family in Our Country and Others” by Vera Timenchik, received complaints from readers. It was released in 2006 as part of a series called “Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s Children’s Project”.
The author told Ulitskaya that the investigators would also like to speak with her, said the decorated novelist, who was nominated for the Booker prize in 2009.
“I’ve been abroad for the last month-and-a-half and I will go to see them as soon as I return to Moscow,” she said of the summons.
“I am ready to take responsibility and defend my point of view wherever necessary, including at the Investigative Committee.”
However, the Investigative Committee denied the existence of any probe or sending any summons to Ulitskaya.
“Ulitskaya was not summoned in any capacity to any branch of the Investigative Committee and a check… is not and has not been carried out by the Investigative Committee,” its press service told the Interfax news agency.
Ulitskaya told AFP in an e-mailed response: “I hope that the grievances that were expressed to the author Vera Timenchik… who was summoned to the Investigative Committee in January have been lifted.”
The book in question is already being examined by prosecutors in the provincial city of Ulyanovsk after a complaint from a member of staff at a children’s library, Gazeta.ru news site reported Thursday, citing prosecutors.
“Everything depends on an expert evaluation,” a senior aide to prosecutors said.
Ulitskaya has publicly supported the opposition movement against President Vladimir Putin along with detective novelist Boris Akunin.