Pushkin, Pornmaster?

Department of the Tragi-Comic: Some of Pushkin and Lermontov’s poetry is being censored in Russia on grounds of “obscenity.”

A collection of his poems has been seized by Russian police as part of a crack-down on “obscene” literature. The move has horrified the nation’s literati in a country where serious literature is a serious business and popular with the masses. Only last week, Moscow’s foreign ministry published a book of poems by the nation’s diplomats.

The verses by Pushkin and another giant of Russian writing, Mikhail Lermontov, have been seized by Russian police in the city of Ivanovo, 160 miles north-east of Moscow.

Prosecutors are now studying the volumes, with the help of literary experts, to decide whether they constitute pornography, which is banned, or erotic literature, which is allowed under Russian law. If convicted, the booksellers could be jailed for up to two years.

The move was triggered by a complaint from a nationalist leader who backs Vladimir Putin.