Why Ukrainian bans on pro-Putin artists is a mistake

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The Ministry of Culture has issued a list of 14 celebrities that will be barred from Ukraine for expressing approval to the Kremlinaggressive policy. They are only the first in a proposed list of 115 names, and they are all Russians. Among them there is also Gerard Depardieu.


The list of 14 includes only Russian citizens. Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship in 2013. The other names, less known in western world, range from singer Mikhail Boyarsky, who likes to duet with Italian popstar Toto Cutugno, to IosifKobzon, born Ukrainian the crooner guilty of an even more unlike duet, the one with the separatist leader of the self-styled Donetsk people’s republic, Aleksander Zakharchenko. The measure was adopted under the new law on cinema and television, signed last February by Petro Poroshenko. The law number 18/2015, provides among other things that “The central executive body that implements the state policy in the field of cinematography, refuses to issue the certificate for the distribution and exhibition of films in the presence of at least one of the following reasons: […] presence in the film of materials (statements, actions, etc.) that promote war, violence, cruelty, fascism and neo-fascism to harm the independence of Ukraine, spur to ethnic, racial or religious hatred, to the humiliation of the nation, to scorn of national and religious symbols […]”.

Moreover, the law prohibits “the distribution and exhibition of films that contain propaganda of an aggressor country or individual actions that create a positive image of their civil servants or employees of the security of the USSR to justify or recognize the occupation of territory of Ukraine “.

The prohibition applies even if “One of the participants in the film is a natural person included in the list of people who pose a threat to national security,” that is just a list published a few days ago by the Ministry of Culture.

Obelix ban

The publication of the list is the first measure with immediate and practical effects. It means that from today is prohibited the distribution and screening of any film in which appears Gerard Depardieu. Just to mention the most famous name. It is not clear if the ban also extends to television and radio. It could mean thatKobzon or Boyarskysongscould not be airedin Ukraine.

The more extensive list of 155 has not been publishedyet, but only delivered to the Rada by the SBU, the internal security service.

The 14 names are guilty of various crimes, from having sung the glories of Putinismin annexed Crimea to having expressed support in various forms to Tsar Vladimir Vladimirovich. According to Ukrainian lawmakers they represent a “threat to national security”. But it’s quite unclear how could Depardieu poses a threat to security of Ukrainians if they don’t let him drink too much or ride one of his motorbikes. The French actor is in good company among a handful of international starsthat during the last yearshave been fascinated by the quiet charm of Putin. From Mickey Rourke to Steven Seagal, a troop of over-sixty machos with a brilliant career behind their shoulders cheers up the court of the tsar. But it is enough to put them on the blacklist?

Crime of opinion

The measure enacted by Poroshenko stinks. It smells like a mediablacklist, reeks of censorship, and reeks of propaganda. As unpleasant and morally reprehensible, these characters are facing a ban for having expressed their (sometimes limited) thought. They are in fact punished for a crime of opinion.

And it’s a big mistake for Ukraine in search of democraticredemption in the eyes of Western partners. In addition, it provides an assist to the Russian biased media that in fact didn’t skip the chance to make the news a major hype. It fuelsthe (distorted and functional to Kremlin’s rhetoric) image of a Ukraine in the hands of anti-democratic extremist forces.

Let’s say it loud and clear, how the heck you protect national security by banning Obelix?


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