A senior Russian Orthodox official called on authorities Wednesday to investigate and ban novels by Vladimir Nabokov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez for "justifying pedophilia."
Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's public relations department, discussed Nabokov's Lolita and Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude on Ekho Moskvy radio in Moscow.
The priest later elaborated in comments carried by Russian news service Interfax, saying the authors' works should not be included in high school curriculums as they "romanticize perverted passions that make people unhappy."
"Obviously, the popularization of these novels in schools will not make our society more morally happy," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Mikhail Shvydkoi, a Kremlin envoy for international cultural co-operation, disagreed, saying such banning books would badly hurt Russia's image.
Nabokov, who left Russia shortly after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, published Lolita in English in 1955. The book, told from the point of view of very unreliable narrator, is about a middle-aged man who is sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.
Nabokov translated the book into Russian in 1967, but the translation — along with the rest of his writings — was banned in the Soviet Union as "pornography."
Unlike Lolita, Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in the Soviet era — despite numerous references to incest and sex with minors.
The Russian Church has already called for tighter controls on the content of television and radio broadcasts and said Russian women should observe an "Orthodox dress code" by wearing longer skirts and non-revealing clothes.
The Church has experienced a revival since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991. It now claims that more than 100 million followers in Russia and tens of millions elsewhere, although polls show that only about five per cent of Russians are observant believers.
The Orthodox Church has sought a more muscular role in Russia, though the Soviet constitution separates church and state.