Natalya Sharina, the Director of the state run Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was detained at her home early in the morning on 28 October by investigators from the Investigative Committee (the main federal investigating authority in Russia). They searched her home for several hours and then they took her to the library where they carried out a search looking for “extremist literature”. Investigators allegedly found works by Ukrainian nationalist Dmitry Korchinsky, in a pile of books that had not yet been indexed or made available to borrowers. In the evening of 28 October Natalya Sharina was interrogated by investigators and it was not until 3am that she was taken to a police station in Tagansky district. Once at the police station, she was held overnight in a crowded cell (which included men) and then transferred to the Temporary Isolation Centre (IVS) in the same district, where she was held until 30 October. She was not given any bedding, food or drink during her detention.
Natalya Sharina, age 58, suffers from high blood pressure and during the two days of her detention she required emergency medical assistance four times. The emergency doctors requested her hospitalization, one of the investigators gave a formal reply that it would take three days for that to happen but took no action.
On 29 October, the Investigative Committee started a criminal case against Natalya Sharina under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (“Inciting national hatred and enmity, as well as humiliation of human dignity”). A representative of the Investigative Committee told the press that during the search they found printed materials with “anti-Russian and anti-Russian state propaganda”. On 30 October Natalya Sharina was placed under house arrest, meaning she only has contact with her lawyer and the close relatives she lives with. She cannot use the internet or the telephone, except to call an ambulance. To leave the house, for any reason other than a medical emergency, she must have the investigator’s permission. A request for her to be allowed to take walks was refused.
Natalya Sharina is a prisoner of conscience who has been deprived of her liberty and is threatened with criminal prosecution solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.
A criminal case was started in 2010 on the purported Library of Ukrainian Literature’s distribution of “extremist literature” by Dmitry Korchinsky. His books were declared extremist by the Russian authorities only in 2013, but the library removed all his books in 2011, and the criminal case was stopped since there was no crime that had been committed.
The investigation against Natalya Sharina was started following a complaint by a former employee of the library who was dismissed in 2010.