On January 23, 2012 two policemen approached writer Yuri Vynnychuk at his home in the West Ukrainian city of Lviv and demanded from him a written explanation of a poem he read a few months ago in Kyiv at the “A Night of Erotic Poetry” festival. The policemen said they were authorized to do so by the prosecutor general after he had received a complaint from the Communist MP, Leonid Hrach, who unabashedly qualified Vynnychuk’s poem as “pornography” and a “call for the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s government.”
The writer rejected these accusations as absurd and stated that the interference in literary matters of politicians, prosecutors and other officials was illegal and anti-constitutional.
The Ukrainian PEN-Center supports Yuri Vynnychuk’s position on the illegal and illegitimate actions of Ukraine’s government officials and draws the attention of Ukrainian society and the international community to the gradual reestablishment of political censorship in Ukraine and the growing pressure of the police, prosecutors, and security service on writers, journalists, scholars, and civic activists. Within the past two years, under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, these repressive tendencies have become both sinister and systemic.
The Ukrainian PEN-Center calls on the Ukrainian national authorities to stop political persecution in the country and abstain from infringing on freedom of speech and interfering in literary and artistic activity. We call on Ukrainian writers and artists as well as on our international colleagues to join our protest.
On behalf of the Ukrainian PEN-Center
Andrei Kurkov and Mykola Riabchuk, vice presidents