A theater in western Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky has banned Anna Karenina, a Russian-language play based on a well-known novel by world-renowned Russian author Leo Tolstoy, the Vesti newspaper reported on Monday.
Under pressure from local activists, the Staritsky Theater’s director refused to sign a rental contact in violation of previous agreements, actor Vitaly Borisyuk said.
"I view this decision quite negatively according to legislation, there is no ban on putting on Russian-language plays, and there is no directive that the actors should speak only Ukrainian," he said.
Actress Olga Sumskaya, who plays Anna Karenina, said: "They ban Leo Tolstoy’s work in the original language, yet this work is part of the scholastic foreign literature program."
On June 6, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a bill into law under which the country's national TV and radio stations must broadcast in Ukrainian for at least 75% of the time.
The quotas for radio and TV were stipulated by the legislation, while decisions on plays are merely private and ordered by radicals. The latest incident may set a precedent and other theaters in Ukrainian cities, even in Kiev, where most performances are in Russian, could start banning plays locally, the paper writes.
Tolstoy’s masterpiece has been adapted to theater productions, films, operas and ballets. Several silver screen versions of Anna Karenina have been shown over the past century.