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Popular medieval mystery author leaves writers union over 'socialist' moves

One of Estonia's best-known sci-fi, fantasy and crime writers, Indrek Hargla, says he is pulling out of the writers' union because he feels its policies are diluting the national culture.

Known for the Apothecary Melchior series being translated into English and other languages, Hargla said Andrei Ivanov, a fellow union member since 2013, should not be granted citizenship for services, Õhtuleht reported.

"I don't like being a member of a union led by socialists who have started increasing the ranks of Estonian citizens from non-Estonians," he said. Hargla has been noted for a strong national stance before, vowing to boycott milk with Russian lettering on the package.

The proposal to grant citizenship to Ivanov, who writes in Russian and has undetermined citizenship, came from Tallinn University rektor Tiit Land late in 2014. The Culture Ministry has put the idea on ice, however, apparently in the interests of not politicizing such decisions in the pre-election season.

Ivanov has been shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and won the annual Cultural Endowment of Estonia literature award this year.

The controversy over Ivanov, which started a few weeks ago, saw several cabinet ministers comment in December. Under law, up to 10 people can be given citizenship for special services. The last person to receive it was Isidor Levin, a folklorist who previously had Russian citizenship. Three people received citizenship for services in 2009, and another three in 2008.

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