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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Writers Support Jailed Publisher

Literary Moscow gathered Tuesday in support of the jailed publisher of a sexually explicit newspaper, and signed a letter to the public prosecutor appealing for his release.

The publisher, Alexei Kostin, has been in jail since Feb. 4 on charges of distributing pornography. He is the publisher of the erotic newspaper Yeshcho, which, while quite frank in its subject matter, is officially registered and has not been banned by the authorities. Kostin's lawyer, Yevgeny Ivanov, addressed the small crowd, calling his client's incarceration an example of lawlessness.

Writers and journalists with a wide variety of literary persuasions assembled at a round table with the impressive title "Power, Sex, Eroticism and the threat of Neototalitarianism," organized by Yeshcho and the weekly magazine Ogonyok.

"There is no clear definition of pornography in our country," said Valery Kulikov, a legal expert. "It is like the fight against dissidence in the Soviet Union -- anything the authorities wanted to ban was declared dangerous."

Not all of the conference participants were so liberal. Boris Nikitin, a writer, was outraged by the copies of the newspaper that were being distributed.

"I think it's right that this guy is in jail," he railed. "Newspapers like this are ruining the country."