Natalya Sharina Judgement: Statement by IFLA President Donna Scheeder

IFLA President Donna Scheeder made the following statement on the judgement in the case of Natalya Sharina on 12 June 2017:

IFLA has been following with concern the case of Natalya Sharina, the former librarian of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow ever since she was arrested in October 2015.

Natalya, the former librarian of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was accused of suspicion of inciting hatred or animosity toward a social group. Prosecutors claimed that her library held banned books, by the Ukrainian nationalist Dmytro Korchynsky. Subsequently she was also charged with misappropriation of funds. 

She always claimed that the books had been planted during the raid and strongly denied the accusation of financial misappropriation.

Guided by its Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE), IFLA argued that Natalya’s detention and prosecution were unnecessary and disproportionate[1]. They also constitute an attack on libraries and librarians.

As IFLA’s Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom of 1999 underlines, ‘libraries contribute to the development and maintenance of intellectual freedom and help to safeguard basic democratic values and universal civil rights. […] To this end, libraries shall acquire, preserve and make available the widest variety of materials, reflecting the plurality and diversity of society’. The selection and availability of library materials and services should, therefore, be ‘governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views’.

The action against therefore Natalya constituted an attack on democracy, learning and culture.

The case has now concluded and Natalya has been found guilty and given a four-year suspended prison sentence[2]. Natalya continues to argue her innocence and has indicated that she is planning to appeal a case which she believes was politically motivated.

IFLA is very disappointed at the outcome of the case, even if her release from house arrest is a positive step forwards. It supports Natalya in her appeal and wishes her well with the outcome. 

IFLA calls on the authorities in Russia, and around the world, to bring the banning of books and the persecution of librarians to an end. For the good of their citizens and civil society, governments must recognise and support libraries in their role as gateways to knowledge, thought and culture.

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Censorship

Last update: 13 June 2017