Russian authorities launched an extremism investigation last month after reports that the novel was being sold in several Moscow bookstores, along with Benito Mussolini’s “The Third Way.” Both books were published and distributed to stores by the Algoritm publishing house. A criminal case of inciting hatred has been opened.
Mussolini’s book was ruled extremist by a Russian court in early October. Moreover, a federal law on combating extremism already recognizes the works of Italian fascist leaders, including Mussolini, as extremist without the need for additional evaluation.
In December 2012, a Moscow court added Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg’s “Myth of the 20th Century” and “Memoirs,” as well as Viktor Pranov’s book, “Survival Law of the Foulest,” to the list of extremist literature banned from publication and sale. Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” has also been banned as extremist in Russia.
I would think that reading Hitler’s and Mussolini’s manifestoes would be pretty important to people studying 20th Century European history, and reading Goebbels’ novel would likewise be valuable to people who are trying to understand more about the Nazi leadership. And even if the government ought to be in the business of suppressing dangerous ideology (a view I do not hold) I would think that Goebbels’ novel is quite unlikely to be much of a danger in modern Russia. (Indeed, for whatever it’s worth, according to Lenta.ru the publisher says that it printed only two or three thousand copies, which makes it quite unlikely that it is trying to propagandize, and makes it much more likely that the books are indeed aimed at people interested in history.) In any case, though, I thought I’d note this for the benefit of those who are interested in European free speech controversies. Thanks to my father Vladimir for the pointer.