Day: October 31, 2006

Books Under Threat

RFE/RL’s Golnaz Esfandiari points to the current dangers facing writers and publishers in Iran. Recently introduced censorship restrictions and guidelines are preventing the issue of new books, and some in the book industry are warning that it could be destroyed by the burdensome and bureaucratic regulations.

Farkhondeh Hajizadeh, an Iranian writer and an award-winning publisher, tells RFE/RL that the licensing process for new titles has become “a monster.”

Over the past year, she claims, many of her books have gone unpublished.

“It would be better for you to ask how many of my books have been given a license these days,” Hajizadeh says when asked about the number of books she has seen held up by censors. “In the past, none of our books were granted permission without modifications. It seems the publishing industry is being devastated, or independent publishers cannot exist anymore. We specialize in art and literature — that’s exactly the area that’s problematic for [officials], not physics and chemistry. Our books have been either banned, or they have faced censorship after a year, or they remain suspended.”

On the Phone

In TimesOnline, Tony Halpin writes about Gifts to Soviet Leaders, a new exhibition of tributes to Kremlin rulers, from Lenin to Gorbachev, which has been compiled by Cambridge anthropologist Nikola Ssorin-Chaikov and Moscow art historian Olga Sosnina. The gifts comprise “tens of thousands of objects presented to Soviet leaders by peasants, workers, foreign sympathisers and heads of state.”:

The telephone was among 20,000 gifts marking Stalin’s 70th birthday in 1949. One film clip in the exhibition shows Stalin receiving a rifle at a party congress in the 1930s then pointing the weapon towards his audience. By the following year most of those present had been killed in a purge.

Russian Diplomat Forbidden Entrance to Israel

Via AIA:

The Shabak, Israeli counter-intelligence and internal security service, has forbidden entrance to Israel to the Russian diplomat, Dr Alexander Kryukov, claiming that he is an intelligence officer. Probably Kryukov is exactly the person directed to Israel by Vladimir Putin to head the Centre of Russian Culture and Science about which Putin spoke with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their meeting in the Kremlin about two weeks ago, online paper NEWSru.com reports.

The Shabak suspects that Kryukov would continue to work in Israel as an agent of the Russian intelligence under a diplomatic covering. Besides there is a fear that the Centre of Russian Culture and Science will be engaged not only in culture, being a convenient base for recruitment of spies and agents of influence among new repatriates, playing on their nostalgia, Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv writes.