Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rogozin Goes After An Ingush Author

State Duma Deputy Dmitry Rogozin has asked prosecutors to investigate whether a novel by an Ingush author incites ethnic hatred.

In turn, the author -- Issa Kodzoyev, an opposition activist and former Soviet dissident -- criticized Rogozin on Tuesday as a "little Stalin."

Rogozin, former head of the nationalist Rodina party, sent an inquiry to the Prosecutor General's Office in July asking it to investigate whether Kodzoyev's novel "Landslide" violated the law, Rogozin spokesman Sergei Butin said Tuesday.

Butin said he could not provide further details concerning the inquiry. Rogozin was traveling and unavailable for comment.

A report on news web site Ingushetiya.ru said Rogozin believed the novel might violate Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to incite ethnic, racial or religious hatred.

Rogozin's allegations are based on monologues spoken by a character in the book, an outlaw named Khuchbarov, the web site said.

In the book, a work of historical fiction set in the 1940s, Khuchbarov calls for the Ingush people to defend themselves from Stalin's persecutions.

The author, who only learned about Rogozin's inquiry Tuesday, called the politician's allegations absurd.

"As I understand it, he has smelled out some sort of danger to the government in my books," he said by telephone.

"I don't know, there is nothing of the sort there. This is a literary text, and I write what I think. Evidently, Rogozin doesn't like it when people write what they think."

Kodzoyev said it was possible that the request was connected to his opposition activism in the republic of Ingushetia.

The author, born in 1938, has criticized the campaign by federal forces to stamp out separatist rebels in Ingushetia and neighboring Chechnya. He has also called for the return of the disputed Prigorodny district from the neighboring republic of North Ossetia to Ingushetia.

Two years ago, Kodzoyev's son was killed by federal forces, who suspected him of terrorism. Kodzoyev denies that his son did anything wrong.

Kodzoyev also connected Rogozin's inquiry to his past experiences. He was imprisoned for his writing in the Soviet era and was caught up in Stalin's mass deportation of Chechens and Ingush to Kazakhstan in 1944, when he was a child.

"Stalinism has been chasing me since I was 7 years old," he said. "Today, Stalin has been buried for a long time, but his deeds live on, his ideas live on, and it turns out that little Stalins are still around too."

Rogozin's complaint about "Landslide" is the latest instance of authorities suggesting that a work of fiction contains criminal content.

Last week, Moscow prosecutors questioned prominent lawyer and television personality Pavel Astakhov over claims that his debut novel, "Raider," libeled city police. The novel had upset a senior Moscow police official because it portrayed his department as corrupt.

On Monday, prosecutors declined to open a criminal case against Astakhov.