Kiev (AFP) - Kiev's public relations war with Moscow scaled new heights on Wednesday as Ukraine released a list of prominent Russian reporters and authors whose books will be banned from sale.
Ukraine's tax and customs service said 38 works by such Russian media celebrities as Sergei Dorenko and critically acclaimed author Eduard Limonov were targeted under the ban.
The original request to seize the works was made in July by the state media committee -- a controversial organisation that had earlier forbidden the broadcast of Russian movies and TV series that allegedly disparaged Ukrainian history.
The television and radio watchdog accused the listed Russian authors of "promoting fascism" and "humiliating and insulating a nation and its people".
They were also accused of "promoting war, racial and religious strife... and threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine".
Most of the people listed have appeared on Russian television throughout the course of Ukraine's separatist conflict to defend Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
Some of them have also branded as "neo-Nazis" the pro-Western leaders who emerged in the wake of the February 2014 ouster in Kiev of a Moscow-backed president.
The subsequent pro-Kremlin uprising that broke out in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east has claimed the lives of more than 6,800 people and sunk Moscow's relations with the West to a post-Cold War low.
But it has also created furious battles in Ukraine and Russia for the hearts and minds of both local and global audiences.
The propaganda campaigns have been accompanied by state-sponsored censorship and crackdowns on independent artists in both countries.
Ukraine has forbidden several Russian singers from performing in Kiev-controlled towns and cities.
Performances by popular Ukrainian rock groups have also been cancelled in some Russian venues without a formal explanation.
- 'Demonstrative step' -
The propaganda battle has taken some bizarre turns.
The Moscow Times reported on Sunday that several prominent Western experts and journalists had accused a Russian publishing house of printing books under their names that they never wrote.
The English-language paper said all the works in question put positive spins on the hardline rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They were reportedly released under the names of such prominent Kremlin critics as Edward Lucas -- a former Moscow correspondent and editor with The Economist magazine.
Some Ukrainian officials called their blacklist a token gesture that would probably have little to no real affect.
"It is hard to say how enforceable these measures can be in the Internet age," Deputy Information Policy Minister Tetyana Popova told AFP.
"This is more of a demonstrative step," she said.
The Russian author Limonov -- best know in Europe for both his graphic semi-autobiographical account of New York's underworld as well as his Stalinist views -- took a contemptuous approach to Ukraine's book ban.
"What else can you expect from a collapsing state," he wrote in a blog post.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Facebook that Kiev's decision was "reached without a court review".
She further quoted a work by 19th century Russian author Alexander Griboyedov that included a famous -- and highly ironic -- exchange about the merits of putting restrictions on freedom of thought.
"If you are going to fight evil, you have to do more than seize the books. You have to burn them," the Griboyedov character quoted by Zakharova said.