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Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2004. Page 3

Publisher Condemns Attempted Drug Book Seizures

By Carl Schreck
Staff Writer

A controversial publishing house accused the Federal Anti-Drug Service of censorship Tuesday after it ordered that a book about marijuana be pulled from the shelves.

The service issued the order last week, citing a ruling two weeks ago by an Ulyanovsk court that declared the book "Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine" to be drug propaganda.

At a press conference Tuesday, Ultra Kultura, which published the Russian translation, said the order was reminiscent of Soviet censorship.

"Society has a right to access to information," Ultra Kultura editor Vladimir Kharitonov said. "The government is starting to interfere in ways we have not seen for a long, long time."

The 1993 book, by Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar, is a compilation of testimonials on the medical uses of marijuana. Article 6.13 of the Administrative Code prohibits "propaganda or illegal advertisement of narcotics."

Ultra Kultura editor-in-chief Ilya Kormiltsev, speaking at the press conference via telephone from London, said the Anti-Drug Service was too late: Almost all of the 2,000 copies of the book that were printed have already been sold.

But "Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine" was not the only book targeted, the publishing house said. Kormiltsev said the Anti-Drug Service, without legal grounds, told the book distribution company Stolitsa-Service to pull two other drug-themed books published by Ultra Kultura, and that the Federal Security Service had made similar recommendations regarding four Ultra Kultura books on terrorism, including the Russian translation of Adam Parfrey's "Extreme Islam," or "Allah Dislikes America" in Russian.

An FSB spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday.

In an interview with Kommersant published Tuesday, Alexander Mikhailov, deputy director of the Anti-Drug Service, denied it was censorship.

"We're tracking adherence to laws and leading an uncompromising battle against drugs," he said. "Censorship is interference in the stage of preparation to publish books and printed materials. We don't do that."

Mikhailov said that if Kormiltsev does not change his publishing policy, sanctions may be imposed on him personally.

Kormiltsev was undeterred. "I haven't made any changes so far, and I don't plan to."

Ultra Kultura is known for publishing controversial authors, including National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov.

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