Bookstores across Moscow have begun selling maps that show four partially occupied southeast Ukrainian regions as Russian territory, media reported Wednesday, as lawmakers move to outlaw displaying the regions as part of Ukraine.
Major chains have this week started accepting maps with the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of eastern and southern Ukraine in the same color pattern as Russia, according to the RBC news website.
Though the four Ukrainian regions are only partly occupied by Russian forces, President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed them in their entirety last fall following widely disputed referendums.
Russian forces were estimated to have held 16.55% of Ukrainian territory as of the end of 2022 following months of battlefield setbacks and a sweeping counteroffensive by Kyiv.
Russia’s lower house of parliament is moving to impose up to 15 days of jail or fines of up to 1 million rubles ($14,000) for “extremist” maps that “dispute Russia’s territorial integrity.”
The bill is expected to become law once it advances through both chambers of the Russian parliament and receives Putin’s signature.
Some Moscow bookstores interviewed by RBC said they have printed a limited run of the new maps — which include wall maps of Russia, Eurasia and the world, as well as world atlases — as they await the new law to take effect.