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Boris Akunin: “I’m off to burn the cyphers and destroy the evidence”

Source: (info), 27/10/11

On 27 October 2011 a huge uproar was caused by the news that senior investigator Tsepelev of the Moscow branch of the National Investigative Committee, started an investigation into... Boris Akunin's novel All the World's a Stage on suspicion that it contains ‘statements of an extremist nature’. The novel, published in 2009, is the latest in a series featuring the adventures of private detective Erast Fandorin. The investigation was apparently based on a complaint made to the authorities.

As reported on the website, Boris Akunin said that the Zakharov Publishing House received a letter summoning its director, Irina Bogat, to the Presnya office of the Investigative Committee's Moscow branch to give evidence. Bogat was also asked to supply a copy of the author's contract with the publisher and the printing company which printed the novel, as well as a copy of the book and Akunin's contact details.

The investigation of the novel on the grounds of extremism was apparently based on a complaint the Investigative Committee had received from a certain A.M. Voyevodin. Senior investigating officer K.V.Tsepelev, who decided to launch the investigation into Akunin’s novel, had previously attracted attention for his part in an affair that lacked artistic merit. It is noteworthy that K.V.Tsepelev is author of a publication entitled “The criminal law classification of a deliberately mendacious denunciation as a crime that impinges upon the gathering of evidence in the criminal process”.

P.S. No sooner was a campaign in defence of the writer Boris Akunin launched than the Investigative Committee hastened to issue a statement. The examination did not confirm the presence of extremist statements in Boris Akunin’s novel All the World’s A Stage, said a representative the Chief Investigating Directorate of the National Investigative Committee’s Moscow Branch, Viktoria Tsyplenkova. ‘The examination of the book by Boris Akunin (Grigory Chkhartishvili) in terms of extremist statements resulted in the decision not to open criminal proceedings on the grounds that no crime has been committed.’ Tsyplenkova added: ‘Earlier, the prosecutor’s office had received a complaint from Voyevodin, who is serving a term of life imprisonment, to the effect that Boris Akunin’s book All the World’s a Stage contains extremist statements. This has not been established...’

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From Boris Akunin’s blog:

“Extremism won’t prevail!

So that’s it, my career as a criminal is over. The letter I received from my publisher is reproduced below.

Some vigilant individual, having discovered the true essence of my so-called oeuvre, has shared his discovery with the relevant law enforcement bodies who obviously realized right away that this was not the seasonally aggravated ravings of a lunatic but something quite serious.

And I knew immediately that this time I wouldn’t escape being uncovered.

A couple of years ago another genuine patriot tried to take me to account for offending the national dignity of the indigenous population of the Russian Federation, but on that occasion I managed to escape unscathed. In the explanatory note I was obliged to supply, I stated with infinite cynicism and a serpent’s cunning that views expressed by a character need not always coincide with those of the author and that I regarded the Russian nation – just like every other nation in the world – with the utmost respect. ‘You’ve got a point,’ the naïve official in the prosecutor’s office said. ‘Lermontov went so far as to refer to “unwashed Russia, a land of slaves, a land of masters”. Should we now bring him to justice?’

But that was a trainee investigator, not yet skilled in the art of fighting extremism. This time, however, the case was assigned to a senior investigating officer, no less! Clearly an experienced old hand, one who won’t be duped. A whole investigating team may have been assembled! They’ve set to work at an astonishing pace, as befits such a serious investigation. They’ve already paid a visit to the publishing house, requesting a copy of the Mein Kampf of a novel cited in the complaint.

Of course, I started leafing through the novel in a frenzy. Could it be that my beastly hatred of the Fatherland with its titular nation and my cannibalistic views have somehow burst to the surface? And lo and behold! I found the passage. I found it and shuddered.

It’s on page 177, lines 10-12!

Oh dear, how could I have been so careless?

I won't quote the monstrous passage [1] lest I aggravate my guilt. Particularly the Day of National Unity is coming up, and we are on the eve of the patriotic march of our healthy national forces.

That's it, I'm off to burn the cyphers and destroy the evidence.

Who knows, a complex operation may already have discovered my ‘contact details’ and a special police commando may already be on its way, sirens blaring.

Never before has Stirlitz [2] been so close to his downfall…”

[1] In this passage Fandorin’s Japanese servant Masa says that the Russians cannot distinguish between udon and sobu (two kinds of Japanese noodles) - trans

[2] A Russian James Bond figure - trans.

Rights in Russia,
1 Nov 2011, 12:54