Books Blocked in Moscow

Burning books is considered passé these days in Moscow. Preference is given to quieter methods of keeping critical tomes off the shelves of Russian bookstores, or the Moscow International Book Fair. First, the largest Russian publisher, Eksmo, announced that Other Russia leader Garry Kasparov’s new book, “How Life Imitates Chess,” would not be released in time for the Fair as planned. First they said there was a delay due to a technical issue and now a spokesperson says it is because Kasparov’s contract with Eskmo has expired. Certainly it couldn’t be that it was deemed unwise to have a big display of an opposition leader’s face with elections so near at hand? After over seven years of Putin we simply don’t believe in such coincidences.

Now the new book of political activist Ruslan Linkov has also disappeared from the shelves. An unknown buyer purchased the entire print run of 5,000 books to ensure it wouldn’t be available at the Book Fair, where it was scheduled to be launched yesterday. The book delves into the mysterious assassinations of several Kremlin critics, including Galina Starovoitova, killed in 1998 in St. Petersburg. Linkov was her assistant and was himself shot in the head during the attack. Every copy of his book, “Notes from a Survivor,” were purchased by a single buyer before they were even printed. More will now be printed, but of course the book fair launch has been missed.