A Russian MP has produced a bill that would limit what he describes as negative TV content to 30% of air time in a move to ensure people are fed a
diet of propaganda
The draft law defines what is acceptable and what should be kept away from viewer's eyes. Journalists should inform people rather than show explicit bloody details in news, the author of the initiative, Oleg Mikheyev told Izvestia daily.
The MP insists the point of the law is not to introduce censorship... .[BUT] ... In his opinion, people just cannot deal with all the negative information they get from the media.
Reports from sites of accidents and terrorist acts that provide close-up view of injured people cause psychological trauma, Mikheyev spewed.
Under the proposal, such content, as well as videos of violence against animals, acts of suicide and paedophilia should be completely banned. Heads of TV channels and journalists who violate the law would face up to six years behind bars.
The propaganda idea was welcomed in the ruling United Russia Party, which may soon develop its own more specific version of the bill. A person should be informed without scenes of violence and horror, a senior member of the party, Valery
The Russian government which has decided that gambling whether online or off is not a good thing and prohibits the activity in all but brick and mortar
casinos in zones at the very edges of Russia’s domain. Since 2009 the Russian authorities have closed and dismantled thousands of parlour casinos and underground poker rooms.
A decree that online gambling is a prohibited activity and the responsibility is up to the ISPs to block access to gambling sites now has the Supreme Court backing it up.
A recent lower court ruling exonerated ISP company executives from an area close to the Estonian border who refused to comply with the order to deny service to gambling patrons.
The Supreme Court however said the ISP must block the gambling site that is now on the government blacklist of over 1500 supposedly illegal web sites. The Supreme Court also extended its definition of bad, to include the dissemination of information
related to the implementation of activities of gambling, which makes it necessary to disconnect even sites that contain only information about gambling portals.
St. Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum is reportedly under investigation over complaints of supposed blasphemy.
Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky told journalists on December 7 that investigators were examining artwork in the exhibition End of Fun by the British brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman.
According to Piotrovsky, the investigators told him that some visitors called the Chapmans' work extremist and complained that it hurt their religious feelings. It includes a Christian cross with the figure of Ronald McDonald nailed to it.
Another features a crucified teddy bear.
Piotrovsky said that he was outraged by the prosecutor's investigation and called the complaints culturally degrading to our society.
The exhibition is scheduled to run at the Hermitage until January 13.
The UK [website blocking] proposal involves an independent regulator which would be tasked with setting clear parameters of what would, and what would not be, acceptable on a clean feed . Websites which felt they were
being unfairly blocked would have a right to appeal any decision.
Earlier this year we found that our website and blog were being blocked by filters designed to offer a safe browsing experience for children on mobile devices. These filters are applied as a default on all mobile devices which
access the internet unless adult users choose to remove them. Although neither our blog nor our website include pornography such material is alluded to in the context of our campaign and our sites were being filtered out.
We contacted the Mobile Broadband Group and pointed out the misclassification and it was a simple matter to get the restrictions lifted.
Ukrainian journalists have protested outside the country's parliament against a bill which will will be used to muzzle the media. More than 100
journalists held up empty posters to highlight their concerns about censorship.
The bill, backed by the party led by President Viktor Yanukovych, calls for more severe punishment for defamation, including prison terms of up to five years. International watchdogs have criticized the measure as a government attempt to silence
Several leading Ukrainian newspapers and magazines have protested in recent days by publishing editions with blank covers.
The legislature is set to consider the bill in the final reading next week.
Ukraine's parliament has scrapped a defamation bill that could have seen journalists fined, banned from working or even jailed. The country's media had launched a vocal campaign to stop it becoming law.
Mustafa Nayem, a member of the Stop Censorship Movement, told euronews:
It wasn't to the government's advantage to press ahead because the image of the country would be tarnished and it could overshadow the election results.
Opposition MPs believe the draft law was ditched because it had become too much of a political hot potato leading up to the parliamentary poll on October 28th.
A court in Moscow has ruled that the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims, can no longer be shown in Russia.
Tverskoi court's ruling follows a similar local decision taken last week by a court in Grozny, the provincial capital of Russia's Muslim-dominated province of Chechnya.
In Moscow, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said the film was deemed extremist because it could incite ethnic and religious hatred.
The RIA-Novosti news agency quoted mufti Shafig Pshikhachev, head of the Coordination Center of Muslims in the North Caucasus, as saying:
This is a positive step in defense of believers. Unfortunately, we are witnessing such events regularly, so I think the adoption of a law is good. We need a legal method of protecting the faithful and our holy places.
I Am Gay and Muslim is a 2012 Netherlands/Morocco documentary biography by Chris Belloni.
With Rayan Rayan. See
A Kyrgyzstan court has banned a documentary on gay Muslims from being shown in the country.
The film, I am Gay and a Muslim, was submitted as part of the One World International Documentary Film Festival currently underway in the capital city of Bishkek.
It reportedly tells the story of gay rights in the Islamic world through the lens of ordinary Moroccans.
Before the court ban, the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security appealed to chief Mufti Rakhmatulla Egemberdiev, who believes the film presents Islam in bad form, using people who have nothing to do with religion in general as examples .
A Bishkek court also ruled the film Innocence of Muslims was extremist and banned its screening.
The Horde is a big budget Russian movie which opened on September 20. It depicts life under the Golden Horde, the Mongol khanate that controlled large portions of Eurasia during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries.
The movie hasn't apparently pleased Russia's nearly 6 million Tatars, who are considered the country's modern-day descendants of nomads who joined Genghis Khan's army and eventually helped to create the Golden Horde.
They say the film falsely depicts the Golden Horde as an empire dominated by random violence, greed, and ignorance.
The film's director, Andrei Proshkin, has defended the film as a work of historic fiction, saying it was never intended as a true-to-life depiction of the Golden Horde. Still, he has acknowledged that the movie is likely to displease many viewers
in Tatarstan, Russia's prosperous and predominantly Muslim republic that is home to the majority of the country's Tatars:
It's difficult to predict what kind of reaction there's going to be [in Tatarstan]. Probably, people are going to be offended. But what can you do?
Among those 'offended' so far are the very researchers who were hired to help Proshkin and his screenwriter re-create the sights and sounds of life under the Mongol Empire. Vadim Rudakov, a researcher specializing in the Golden Horde said he came away
from the first meeting feeling enthusiastic that Russia would finally have an accurate depiction of life under its Mongol forbearers, who are widely credited with establishing regional government, a postal system, census-taking, and military
But once the script was developed, Rudakov was crestfallen. Most of his suggestions about historical accuracy had been ignored, he told RFE/RL. And the depiction of the Mongols, he said, was deeply degrading:
Some of them were given human qualities, but the overall impression is of brutal, bloodthirsty, evil-minded, greedy people. Even the jokes they told were flat and stupid. It was all of the worst traditions of the old Soviet films about Tatar Mongols and
A group of Russian Duma deputies is developing a bill that would criminalize blasphemy, sacrilege and anything else that offends religious believers.
Under the proposal, currently being drafted by members of the Social and Religious Organizations Committee, people convicted of insulting the faithful would face a steep fine, forced labor and even prison, Deputy Yaroslav Nilov told RIA-Novosti.
The current 1,000 ruble ($30) fine is laughable, the Liberal Democratic Party deputy said. If someone runs a red light, that's 1,000 rubles. If someone offends a million believers, that's also 1,000 rubles.
Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of the confusion resulting from a new Russian law intended to protect minors from harmful content. Approved by the Duma in July, it allows the authorities to compile a website blacklist.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The law's vagueness and inconsistencies render its repressive provisions even more threatening and are encouraging journalists to censor themselves. The vague definition of 'harmful content' leaves too much room for interpretation and increases the
probability of overblocking. How are the media to cover natural disasters, wars and sex crimes with these constraints?
As defined, the requirement to put age ban labels on content is absurd and dangerous. On the grounds of protecting minors, this law is likely to place serious obstacles on the media's ability to provide the public with general news coverage. We urge
parliament to clarify this law and to strike out those provisions that violate the constitution and international agreements that Russia has ratified.
Under the final version of the law, the media are supposed to prevent children from seeing content that contains violence, sex or rude words and content that encourages them to smoke or drink alcohol. To this end, every offending story, video or photo
will have to be labelled banned for minors under the age of 6, 12, 16 or 18.
Vladimir Pikov, the spokesman of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) explained that all online media except news agencies were required to put age ban labels on
their content but print media that cover politics and current affairs were not. Each individual article or item was supposed to be labelled, but if that proves too complicated, the entire website must be labelled.
To avoid any risk, many online media representatives have decided they may have to label their entire site as banned to those under the age of 18 even if this could have a big impact on their readership and could result in their site being blocked by
some Internet Service Providers, public WiFi networks and public institutions such as schools.
The independent newspaper Kommersant's lawyers say its entire website will be labelled banned to those under the age of 16 from today onwards. Although news agencies are supposed to be exempt, Interfax has already decided to label its website only for
As the president of Ukraine inaugurated the global conference of the newspaper editors and publishers on Monday, he was heckled by the leading Ukrainian journalists who stood up to protest against the official censorship.
The presidential security guards interrupted and the protesting journalists in front of the international delegates, taking away placards from some journalists that read Stop Censorship .
Despite protest by the journalists, President Viktor Yanukovych continued his speech stressing entirely the opposite of his ongoing practice of crackdown on the media that is stopped from covering the activities of opposition parties, social and economic
problems, and criticism from the foreign politicians of the situation in Ukraine.
I can ensure you that the development of the freedom of speech and independent media will stay one of our main priorities in going forward as it is very important for our future. And we want to become a partner with you in ensuring this , he
A Russian national TV channel is going to censor The Simpsons . In light of a new law banning displays of violence, drinking, and smoking on TV before 11pm, the young adult-targeted channel 2x2 will remove all scenes with the show's
violent spoof cartoon The Itchy & Scratchy Show starting Friday.
The channel's general director Lev Makarov told AFP:
We will retouch in an ironic way all the programs where there are scenes that fall under the new law. For example, we will black-out the screen and write a jokey message in a rolling caption.
Makarov said the animated series South Park , on the other hand, will not be aired before 11pm because creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone insist on killing Kenny in almost every episode.
The classic Soviet-era children's cartoon Nu, pogodi! featuring a hapless wolf trying to catch a crafty rabbit, is another victim of the new censorship law. It features a character with a lit cigarette or ten, dangling from his lips.
Longtime fans of Nu, pogodi! are dismayed at the news that it may be relegated to late-night time slots due to the prodigious tobacco use by its star.
The new law supposedly aimed at protecting children under the age of 18 from programming featuring drinking, smoking, or drug use comes into force on September 1.
The Unchristian Russian Orthodox Church is warning of an organized antichurch campaign, after vandals in two widely separated regions took chainsaws to four large wooden crosses over the weekend.
Church spokeprats say the damage was done by people who are either in sympathy with the Pussy Riot collective, three of whose members were sentenced to two years in a penal colony earlier this month for a protest against the church and against Vladimir
Church Patriarch Kiril had abandoned all christian principles of forgiveness and had supported the persecution of the protest group. So perhaps hardly surprising that the church had incurred the wrath of the protest group and their supporters.
The four crosses were chopped down by unknown persons who left police no clues to their motives or identity. One was a large wooden crucifix erected to the memory of Soviet-era political prisoners in the far northern region of Archangelsk. Russian media
reported three more wooden crosses were destroyed in Chelyabinsk region in western Siberia.
Two weeks ago, in Kiev, members of a Ukrainian feminist performance art collective, Femen, chainsawed a large wooden Orthodox cross as an explicit protest against the Pussy Riot verdict. The Femen women argued they were cutting down the symbol of
a corrupt church whose actions prop up the dictatorship of Putin.
Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow said:
What we're seeing here are copycat acts, people who take a signal from what Pussy Riot did, and it could be very dangerous.
Having said that, however, it should be noted that the church leaders are not being entirely forthcoming here. They have a vested interest in portraying themselves as victims, especially since they failed so miserably in the Pussy Riot struggle.
A Serbian arthouse movie that swept a prestigious European festival this year has been banned from screening in Russia by the Culture Ministry.
The film, Clip , was banned over supposedly indecent language and scenes of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as pornographic depictions of sex between minors, Sam Klebanov, the head of Kino Bez Granits, the film's prospective distributor,
This is the first case of such censoring, and an attempt to introduce moral censorship in the country.
He added that explicit arthouse fare has never had any screening problems in Russia before.
The ban was signed by Deputy Culture Minister Ivan Demidov, known for his radical Christian views, Klebanov said.
Clip, directed by Maja Milos, tells the story of a provincial teenager experimenting with drugs and sex in order to forget her near-dysfunctional family. It has been likened to Larry Clark's Kids
The US, EU and rights groups have condemned jail sentences imposed on three members of Russian protest group Pussy Riot over an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.
The women were sentenced to two years in prison. The sentences were handed down in Moscow by Judge Marina Syrova, who found Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
The women said their protest, in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February, was directed at the Orthodox Church leader's support for Putin.'
US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US was concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences... and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia .
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the jail terms questioned Moscow's respect for the obligations of fair, transparent and independent legal process .
Amnesty International strongly condemned the court's ruling, saying it showed that the Russian authorities will stop at no end to suppress dissent and stifle civil society .
Russia's Orthodox Church said the protest was a blasphemy but also unconvincingly appealed for clemency for the women, perhaps realising the bad press that church had received through their unforgiving stance. A church statement said:
We think the words of pity for the convicted which have been coming from the Church's children and other people are natural. It is necessary to divide the sin from sinner and reprimand the first while hoping the latter will improve.
The Church added that it condemned the intentional act of blasphemy as well as the rude hostility to millions of people and their feelings . They also pointed out that blasphemy which qualifies as a sin against God can only be
forgiven after sincere repentance. [After say about 2 years in prison?]
The British Shadow Chancellor Kerry McCarthy attended the Pussy Riot trial on Monday to give a bit of extra attention to the three members of the all-female protest group who face up to seven years in prison for a church performance in which they
denounced President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill.
It seems strange to me that they have been charged with this offense, McCarthy told The Moscow Times during a break inside the courtroom at Moscow's Khamovnichesky District Court. In the U.K., they would have been charged with a breach of peace
and told off or fined.
When McCarthy started following the trial, she saw that the defendants weren't able to call their witnesses and that other violations of their rights were taking place, she said.
Asked whether she saw the trial as politically motivated, she replied, Everything I've read about it would lead me to think that.
Pussy Riot's alleged crime was to have performed what they dubbed a punk prayer in the cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February, a 40 second performance of a song calling on the Virgin Mary to join forces with them against Vladimir Putin.
The trial has in large part been about whether the band were demonstrating religious hatred by their actions, or whether - as the women maintain - it was a political protest. The prosecuting lawyer somewhat bizarrely argued in his closing
statement that it wasn't a political statement as no politicians were named, although the song is called Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Out.
The band argue, perhaps a little facetiously, that the song isn't anti-religious because they're enlisting the Virgin Mary onto their side. The female lawyer representing the nine victims in court (that is, those who say they were insulted or traumatised
by seeing the performance) was outraged by the band's suggestion that Mary was a feminist, and said that feminism is a mortal sin .
There have, however, been many criticisms made of the trial process: the fact the defence weren't allowed to call the witnesses they wanted to, and not allowed to examine the prosecution witnesses/victims properly either. I wasn't there for the victims'
testimony but people have reported that the judge was very quick to shut down questions, and simply didn't allow the sort of cross-examination that the defence wanted.
There have also been many concerns raised about the way the women are being treated: they say they are only getting a few hours sleep a night, they aren't being fed during their 12 hour days at court, and Nadya and Masha have not been able to see their
two small children. There has also been an order made barring Nadya's husband, Peter, from visiting her, after - I was told - he was seen to be too active in calling for their release.
Comment: The bit about forgiving those who trespass against them
11th August 2012. Thanks to Alan
Kerry McCarthy's remarks on the trial are interesting, but I don't think she quite sees the point about Pussy Riot's claim that the Virgin Mary would agree with them. It isn't facetious . Whether or not they believe the doctrines of the opening
words of their prayer - Bogoroditse Devo ( Virgin Mother of God ) - or even in her historical existence, the fact is that in the longest speech attributed to her in the New Testament Mary talks of God putting down the mighty from their
thrones and raising up the humble, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty . Looks like that's another Madonna they've got on their side.
Furthermore, Patriarch Kirill, his absurd spokesprat Fr Chaplin - can't resist saying he's a right Charlie! - and the allegedly offended lay people in the cathedral ought to be well aware of this, since, like Anglicans and Catholics, they say or sing
this text, called the Magnificat, daily in their services. They also say that prayer by Mary's kid, but don't seem to have taken on board the bit about forgiving those who trespass against them.
When it comes to the lawyer calling feminism a sin , words almost fail me. Does this idiot ever look in the robing room mirror? She's (1) a woman and (2) a lawyer. How does she think she manages to be both without the work of feminists?
Extract: Russian Orthodox Church defiant over Pussy Riot trial
Younger Orthodox Russians I spoke to, many of whom support Pussy Riot, disagree. They feel that their Patriarch is not maintaining the neutrality expected of him and is in fact legitimising the activity of the state.
The Church connects people to God but now these two bodies - the Church and the government - are linked and it should not be like this, says Nikolai Polozov, a committed Orthodox Christian and the lawyer acting for Pussy Riot.
And yet the Church feels someone is out there to get them. As it struggles to boost its low attendances (fewer than 10% of Russians attend church regularly), it talks of a smear campaign being waged against the Patriarch.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has publically insulted Madonna via Twitter. He tweeted:
Every former w. who has aged wants to give lectures about morals, especially during tours and gigs abroad.
The w, translated from Russian, is an abbreviation that roughly means slut, bitch," or "whore."
Rogozin ranted about Madonna after a mid-concert speech which she gave in support of the all girl dissident protest group, Pussy Riot, to tens of thousands of fans at Moscow's Olimpiisky stadium, Madonna said:
I think that these three girls ... have done something courageous. I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom.
A group of leading musicians has called on Russia's president Vladimir Putin to give a fair hearing to members of a protest group held for months on remand for performing a legitimate protest .
The trio from Pussy Riot staged a performance in a Moscow cathedral calling on the Virgin Mary to remove President Putin from power.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, the group of British musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Pete Townshend, Martha Wainwright and Neil Tennant, said that the incident by the band amounted to a minor breach of the peace .
Requesting the release of the three protestors a statement said:
We are extremely concerned about the treatment they have received since their arrest and during their trial.
Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".
We are especially concerned about recent reports that food is being withheld from them and that they have appeared in court in a cage.
The backing of British musicians comes after other celebrities including pop star Sting and US rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers had showed support for their plight.
Vsevolod Chaplin says authorities are not speaking loudly enough about western involvement in the growing opposition movement.
A top official in the Russian Orthodox church said that the trial of the feminist protest group Pussy Riot had been willed by God,. Three members of Pussy Riot stand accused of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred following a February performance in
Russia's main cathedral aimed at protesting against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency.
It was a sin against God and it is God that is judging it, Vsevolod Chaplin, a high-ranking priest who often acts as the church's spokesman, said: And all Christians should know this.
Chaplin said he refused to accept the three women's apology, issued in court on Monday, for insulting Orthodox believers. An unforgiving Chaplin said:
Their words had a double meaning Any acceptance of a mistake is a step in the right direction. But they also insulted the patriarch, who is a symbol of the church.
And to confirm the root basis of the Pussy Riot protest, Chaplin praised the growing closeness between church and state:
For the Orthodox believer, like for Muslims, of course the authorities and the church are understood as one thing. Our ideal is the unity of the church and the authorities, and unity of the people and the authorities.
In this way, we are decidedly different from the west. I think attempts in the west to separate the spiritual sphere and secular sphere is a historical mistake. Such a division is not characteristic to any civilisation except the west.
A court in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, has blocked the popular blogging platform LiveJournal after one page was accused of publishing
The ban, which will affect an estimated 60,000 Livejournal account holders in the region, and their readers, has been opposed by internet service providers and Roskomnadzor, the federal telecommunications regulator.
security agents should immediately release a website editor who has been jailed for publishing photographs of teddy bears, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The KGB, the nation's security service, is holding Anton Suryapin for alleged complicity
in an illegal border crossing after the editor ran photos of the stuffed animals, which were reportedly dropped from the skies over Minsk as part of a publicity stunt.
Are Belarusian security agents worried that teddy bears are engaged in an illegal border crossing? It would be hard to keep a straight face about these absurd charges were it not for the fact that Anton Suryapin is sitting in jail, CPJ
Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said: We call on authorities to immediately release Suryapin and drop these senseless criminal charges against him.
Agents detained Suryapin after raiding the editor's apartment, news reports said. Suryapin had published on his website, Belarusian News Photos, pictures of the teddy bears pinned with press freedom messages that had been airdropped on July 4
by members of Studio Total, a Swedish advertising agency, the reports said.
Update: Concerns for journalist seemingly charged with facilitating the illegal immigration of teddy bears
Belarus has finally admitted the flight of a small Swedish plane that parachuted teddy bears into the country (as reported by Index on Censorship) did happen. The authorities had previously denied the incident had taken place,
in spite of video evidence. President Lukashenko promised today that the ones to blame will be punished . He did not mention, though, if Anton Suryapin, a journalist who has been detained as a result of the case, will be among those appointed
to be to blame .
Suryapin, 20, is being held at the KGB detention centre in Minsk for posting pictures of the bears on his website. Around 1,000 plush paratroopers were parachuted over Belarus earlier in July from a plane flown from Lithuania
by members of Swedish advertising agency Studio Total; each of the toys held a small poster with slogans in support of human rights and the freedom of expression in the country. The government has allegedly accused the journalist of assisting the
breach of the state border.
Two Belarusian journalists have been fined the equivalent of $360 each for posing with a teddy bear in a photo session.
Iryna Kozlik and Yulia Darashkevich were arrested on August 8 in Minsk when posing and taking pictures of themselves with a teddy bear, expressing their solidarity with blogger Anton Surapin and businessman Syarhey Basharymau.
Surapin and Basharymau were arrested last month for their alleged involvement in the parachuting of teddy bears from a Swedish plane on the Minsk area accompanied by texts supporting Belarusian dissidents and the country's opposition.
Update: Belarus KGB orders Swedes to appear for questioning
Belarus' security agency, the KGB, has summoned a Swedish advertising team for questioning after the group air-dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears that carried pro-human rights messages onto the soil of the repressive ex-Soviet state.
The agency threatens the Swedes with fines or even jail time if they don't show up in 10 days.
The summons posted on the KGB's website, says the agency is investigating the criminal case of the ad group's illegal crossing into Belarusian airspace. The KGB said it wants the Swedes to participate in its investigative
actions so it can clarify the role each person played and help it decide how to deal with two Belarusian men accused of aiding the Swedes.
Studio Total co-founder Tomas Mazetti, who piloted the plane in the teddy bear drop, said he received the summons via email, and that it demands he and two colleagues, Hannah Frey and Per Cromwell, appear.
Mazetti told The Associated Press that the group wants legal advice before deciding what to do, and that the team members would likely demand guarantees that they would not be detained if they showed up. We have nothing against helping them
in their investigation to clarify just how we did it, he said.
Tajikistan plans to create a volunteer-run body to monitor Internet use and reprimand those who openly criticise President Imomali Rakhmon
and his government, the head of the Central Asian country's state-run communications service said.
Beg Zukhurov said the organisation, while awaiting official registration, had already brought several Internet users to task for publishing insults against well-known personalities . Volunteers for this organisation will
track down and identify the authors of such comments, Zukhurov told reporters.
Asked what would happen to anybody identified by the new organisation, he replied: I don't know. Probably, they will be shown the error of their ways.
A Moscow judge has ordered three members of the feminist protest group, Pussy Riot, to spend the next six months in
jail, prolonging a shameful case that has highlighted the vindictiveness of both the Russian church and the authorities.
The three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina, were remanded in custody until January 2013. They have been in jail since their arrest in March after performing an anti-Putin punk prayer in Moscow's
most important, but not very christian, 'church'.
Their supporters say the powerful Orthodox church, which has close links with Putin, is behind the drive to keep the women in jail. Top church officials have come out in favour of their incarceration.
However many less elevated, but more christian Russians, who initially took offence at Pussy Riot's church stunt, have since called for their release. A poll released on Friday by the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, showed that 50% of
Muscovites surveyed were against pursuing the criminal case against the three women, while 36% supported it.
Wikipedia shut down its Russian-language page on Tuesday to protest at a bill that would boost government control
over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.
The page was replaces with a Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle, and the words imagine a world without free knowledge written in block letters underneath.
The bill, due to be considered by parliament on Wednesday, will lead to the creation of a Russian analogue to China's Great Firewall the website warned in a statement. The bill calls for the creation of a federal website banned list and
would have to be signed into law by Putin before coming into effect. Internet providers and site owners would be forced to shut down websites put on the list.
The bill's backers, from Putin's United Russia party, claim that the amendments to the country's information legislation would target child pornography and sites that promote drug use and teen suicide. But critics, including Russian-language Wikipedia,
warned that it could be used to boost government censorship over the internet.
Russia's parliament has voted to approve a law that would give the government the power to force certain internet sites offline without court
The bill still needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law. It must also be approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council of Russia.
The Moscow Times reported that deputies amended the law to removed a reference to harmful information , replacing it with a limited list of forbidden content. The blacklist is now restricted to sites offering details about how to commit
suicide, material that might encourage users to take drugs, images featuring the sexual abuse of children, and pages that solicit children for pornography. If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers and web hosting
companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.
But critics have complained that once internet providers have been forced to start blocking certain sites, the government may seek court orders to expand the blacklist.
Despite criticisms and Wikipedia protests, Russia's upper house of parliament passed a controversial draft law today that would give the government
far-reaching power over the internet in the country.
The New York Times reports that the Federation Council of Russia passed the legislation 147 to 0, with three members abstaining, and matches the version that passed the lower house, the State Duma, earlier this month.
Strident objections from the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the country's Yandex search engine, and the Russian social networking site Vkontakte may have been responsible for minor changes to the language used in the law, which saw the
blanket term harmful information swapped for the more specific types of dangerous content it now specifies.
The bill will now be making its way to the desk of President Vladimir Putin, and once signed will become law.
Censorship on religious literature could soon be so restrictive in Kyrgyzstan that anyone wanting to import, publish or distribute religious
literature will have to seek prior permission from the authorities, reports Forum 18 News Service.
In 2009, Kyrgyzstan created a Religion Law, but it did not impose censorship on all religious literature, notes Forum 18. Now, amendments to the law have been proposed to tighten censorship by September.
The new amendment technically reads like this: Control on the import, production, acquisition, storage and distribution of printed materials, film, photo, audio and video productions, as well as other materials with the purpose of unearthing
religious extremism, separatism and fundamentalism is conducted by the plenipotentiary state organs for religious affairs, national security and internal affairs.
Many Kyrgyzstanis agree that would mean all-out censorship of all religious materials.
If the amendment passes, the Committee has suggested the establishment of another committee which will exist exclusively to oversee the censorship. Essentially, local authorities won't be the enforcers: a specific task force will be.
Russian parliament has passed a law establishing a central register of banned websites. The new laws are ostensibly designed for child protection, but the real aim is to take control over the country's burgeoning social networks
The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned over Russia's moves to return defamation to the criminal code, and calls on the parliament
to reject the restrictive bill on its second reading.
The ruling United Russia party introduced the bill to parliament on Friday and deputies approved it on a first reading today--drawing criticism from the opposition, who said the bill was rushed and did not undergo meaningful debate, local press
reports said. The bill must past three readings in the parliament's lower house, the State Duma, before going to the upper house and finally to the president. Once the State Duma passes a bill, the role of the upper house, or Federation Council, is
The move to make defamation a criminal offense is a step backwards for Russia. In November, parliament voted to decriminalize libel and insult in a move widely perceived as part of then-President Dmitry Medvedev's liberalization policies. According
to the independent news agency Regnum, the new bill allows for imprisonment of up to five years, and a fine for moral damages up to 500,000 rubles (US$15,300) for those found guilty of defamation.
The criminalization of speech would be a significant step backward for freedom in Russia, and we call on parliament and President Putin to reject this bill entirely, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said:
The recent rush to pass bills that restrict fundamental human rights is misguided and casts a shadow on the president's commitment to democratic values.
Iran has warned its media against the publication of reports concerning the impact of Western sanctions, local newspapers reported.
Mohammad Hosseini, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, whose ministry oversees censorship and propaganda, said:
Our country is not in a position to allow the media to publish (any) news or analysis which is not compatible with the regime's and national interests.
The situation regarding sanctions and other pressures, especially in economy ... requires more cooperation by the media so the country is not hurt.
Soon we will hold a meeting with the nation's media and economic officials so they are more informed about the current conditions, especially the sanctions, and so that they function by taking into consideration the country's
This is the first time that the effects of sanctions have become reasons for official censorship.
The Kosovo government should take urgent steps to address the threat to media freedom posed by provisions that, despite extensive protest, have survived in the new criminal code, Human Rights Watch said.
On June 22, 2012, the Kosovo National Assembly failed for a second time to remove provisions from the new criminal code that criminalize defamation and force journalists to reveal their sources, despite calls to remove them by the government, president,
and journalists. The current criminal code has similar provisions.
The Assembly's failure to address these problematic provisions means that journalists reporting on public figures or corruption continue to risk being treated as criminals, said Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights
Watch: The government should now step in to protect media freedom and independent journalism in Kosovo.
The Kosovo Assembly originally passed the disputed articles 37 and 38 of the Criminal Code on April 20. On May 8, after protests from journalists and media watchdogs, President Atifete Jahjaga sent the law back to Assembly for reconsideration.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, and the deputy prime minister and justice minister, Hajredin Kuqi, publicly supported removing the two provisions. But only 59 members voted to remove the contested articles, two short of a majority.
Immediately following the June 22 vote, Kuqi resigned in protest. According to a media report, Kuqi explained his decision by saying he did not want to be someone who undermines media freedom.
Media reports say that the president has said that the new code is unconstitutional. But the president has no authority to send the law back to the Assembly for a second time, and the government cannot make further amendments to the law until it comes
into force on January 1, 2013.
Russia's Council of Muslims has expressed 'outrage' over the banning in one court hearing in Orenburg of 65 Islamic texts as extremist .
The ban was imposed in a 20-minute hearing on 21 March and came into force on 27 April, but only became known when copies of the decision were handed to Islamic publishers at a book fair in Kazan in mid-June.
The Council condemned such religious book bans as an attempt to revive total ideological control . Damir Mukhetdinov, first deputy chair of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of European Russia, told Forum 18 said: We are already deciding on
our next steps and preparing documents for an appeal.
A court has ruled that three members of Pussy Riot, the protest group who stormed the pulpit of Moscow's main Orthodox church and asked for Russia to be freed from Vladimir Putin will remain in prison until late July. This will add up to 5 months in
prison so far.
Outside the court building, police detained at least five people as dozens of the band's supporters whistled in unison, chanted anti-Kremlin slogans and clashed with Orthodox activists who called on the band members to repent.
A Russian court yesterday ruled that three members of the feminist punk rock collective known as Pussy Riot will remain in jail - a crushing end to a day of rumors, reportedly out of the Kremlin, that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and
Yekaterina Samutsevich be released on bail.
The three activists were arrested in March after allegedly staging a flash mob style protest at Moscow's distinctly unchristian Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21.
Ukraine has launched a bitter attack on the BBC, with senior officials describing a controversial Panorama documentary that claimed racism was rife in the country as an unacceptable provocation.
The Panorama programme was a direct assault, Oleg Voloyshn, the foreign ministry spokesman in Kiev, said, accusing the BBC of lowering expectations and deliberately trying to sabotage the tournament. He added: It was a kind of
provocation. Voloyshn acknowledged there was racism in Ukraine but added:
It's in every country. And it's a smaller problem than was shown in the film.
We don't have real racism en masse in Ukraine. We have nationalists. They are anti-Russian, anti-Polish and anti-European. But the biggest problem so far has been between Russians and Poles. And the Poles are already in the European Union.
The documentary, Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate , was broadcast on May 28. It showed a group of Indian supporters being punched and kicked at a Ukraine league match, and showed Polish fans chanting anti-semitic slogans. The graphic footage prompted
the former England defender Sol Campbell to urge England fans to stay away from Euro 2012 or risk coming home in a coffin .
The BBC has robustly defended the programme. It says it was made in accordance with strict editorial guidelines. Writing last week in a blog, Panorama's editor, Tom Giles, vehemently defended the documentary against Polish and Ukrainian criticism:
We feel strongly that our reporting was both legitimate and fair ... The programme made clear that we were investigating the behaviour of some football supporters and political hooligans -- not the peoples of the countries themselves.
Novosibirsk city court has fined the artist Artem Loskutov for painting two icon-like images of Pussy Riot members, which then were distributed as advertising posters all over the city.
Loskutov was charged with supposed violation of public morality in the form of desecration of venerated public objects, signs and emblems of ideological symbols. The fine is 1000 rubles.
On March 11 2012, Icon-like posters depicting feminist band Pussy Riot members emerged in the city of Novosibirsk. The poster shows a woman wearing a red cloak and a purple mask. She holds her hands up and carries a baby on her chest. There are two words
on the banner "FRDM PSRT" (a shortened version Freedom to Pussy Riot -- translated).
On February 21, five members of The Pussy Riot punk band performed on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow for a few minutes. They sang a song that contained unflattering characteristics of the clergy of the temple, as well as the
Russian Patriarch, Kirill. The women, who were wearing colored masks, also sang Holy Mother, send Putin packing! Three members of the band are still detained under arrest awaiting trial.
A radio host has been hospitalized after being cut 15 times by an unidentified attacker. Two weeks ago the journalist ventured to criticize the religious character Mohammed on air.
According to the police report, an unknown man called to Sergey Aslanyan's flat over the building intercom and called him outside for a talk. When the journalist stepped out of the entranceway he was knocked over the head with a heavy object, after which
the assailant brought the knife into play.
Aslanyan claimed that the attacker was shouting you are Allah's enemy! while slashing at the victim.
As of now the journalist is conscious and his condition is stable.
Still, Izvestia newspaper suggested the attack was linked to recent statements made by the journalist in a radio show. While discussing religion in general he made some remarks about Mohammed:
The Prophet Mohammed, as we know, was not a religious figure. He was a businessman, but after getting considerable financial support built plans as to how to get to the top.
According to Aslanyan, the idea of Islam was a business project from the very beginning, and turned out to be successful due to handsome financing.
iThere was a widespread angry reaction on the Islamic internet forums. Muslims from the Republic of Tatarstan, where Islam is the dominant religion, wrote a letter to the Prosecutor General's office saying Aslanyan's statements had insulted them. Imam
Seijarfar Lutfullin said:
These insults wound our religious feelings and come into conflict with Russian legislature, because they unleash ethnic discord and interreligious hatred.
Paramount released Sacha Baron Cohen's latest comedy, The Dictator, worldwide on Wednesday, but one country has decided to ban the film. The Central Asian state Tajikistan has opted to ban the film.
A Tajik film distributor told the Kyrgyz blog Kloop.kg that the real reason that the film is being banned is because of its content, even though other former Soviet republics in the region will be showing the film. It's wrong to compare us with
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and with other countries, Daler Davlatov told the site, reports The Guardian.
It's incorrect because we have a different mentality. We're not going to give Dictator a premiere because of these considerations, Davlatov explained.
AFP reports that the repressive Turkmenistan is also likely to ban The Dictator.
A judge in Moscow City Court has backed the extended detention of three members of the female punk group Pussy Riot, who are facing charges of committing hooliganism inside Russia's most undeservedly revered Orthodox church.
The judge rejected an appeal by defense lawyers challenging a lower court's decision to jail the trio until at least June 24 as authorities pursue the legal case against them.
The three were arrested February 21 after staging a performance against Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule in Russia inside Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.
The human rights group Amnesty International has described the three young women as prisoners of conscience who have been unjustly jailed.
A representative for freedom of the media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that governments across the world are posing a threat to internet freedom. The governments in the US and UK, known for their willingness to
blame their political partners for violating human rights and freedoms, have turned out to be particular tough in suppressing internet freedom.
The OSCE says that one of major threats to internet freedom is inability of governments to adopt effective laws. Dunja Mijatovic, the representative for freedom of the media for the OSCE, thinks that governments are still trying to restrict or suppress
internet freedom and censor online content.
Practically complete internet freedom is a matter of deep concerns for governments both in the developing countries, where opposition bloggers and journalists are often persecuted, and in the leading western democracies. All attempts to censor online
content are usually described as measures taken as part of the war on cyberterrorism. The US and the UK have been particularly active in using this term to justify their tough online censorship.
An official of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, which operates Azerbaijan's repressive religious censorship system, admitted in mid-April that about 100 shops wishing to sell religious books are still waiting for the necessary
licences. Only 16 such licences have been issued since the system's introduction in 2009.
Forum 18 News Service notes that selling religious books without a licence risks a maximum punishment for a first offence of two years' imprisonment.
Tens of thousands prayed outside Moscow's main cathedral on Sunday to show their support for the Russian Orthodox church in a controversy over a punk rock political protest.
Christ the Saviour cathedral was the scene of a brief surprise performance in February by Pussy Riot, a female punk rock group protesting against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency. Three band members remain in police custody and face up to seven
years in jail on charges of hooliganism.
Their treatment has provoked a public outcry and contributed to growing criticism of the church and its close ties to the Kremlin.
Patriarch Kirill has portrayed the punk performance as part of a broader attack on the church. He had called on believers to attend Sunday's service to pray for our faith, our church, our sacred objects and our fatherland . The patriarch has
joined the Kremlin in portraying the anti-Putin protest movement as a threat to Russian statehood.
Amendments to the Criminal Code relating to the promotion of violence, cruelty and pornography, have come into force in Uzbekistan.
The amendments were approved by the lower chamber of the Uzbek parliament on March 6, approved by the Senate on March 23 and have now been signed by President Islam Karimov.
Amendments made to two Codes increase the penalties for the production, importation, distribution, promotion and exhibition of pornographic materials. The offences now carry large fines and up to 3 years jail for repeat offenders.
Pornography is defined as images of sexual organs or images of real sex. There are exceptions for material of artistic value, or with scientific, medical or educational purpose.
Moldova's state broadcast censor has stripped a pro-communist TV station of its licence, forcing it off air for what it claimed was biased reporting.
The move sparked accusations of censorship and could set back the former Soviet republic's efforts to forge closer ties with the European Union.
The station, NIT, has often criticised the ruling Alliance for European Integration, a group of pro-Western parties that came to power after defeating the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova in 2009.
NIT said it planned to appeal the regulator's ruling via the courts.
The Russian Interior Ministry has announced plans to open specialized centers to monitor online media for extremism, RIA Novosti reports.
Internal Affairs Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said that the new centers would track both text and audio-visual materials. According to Nurgaliyev, the decision was made by an interagency commission and will be implemented throughout the country by regional
Elaborating on the number of anti-extremism cases that the agency has undertaken, the minister said: Two hundred and nineteen cases of investigation and analysis were initiated in 2011. Investigative agencies filed 67 charges and issued 130 cautions,
warnings and advisories. In 47 cases, access to particular internet resources was blocked and their activities were halted.
Claims that Azerbaijani police savagely beat performers at a protest must be independently investigated by the authorities, Amnesty
International said as Jamal Ali and his band's bass player, Natig Kamilov, continued to be held in custody.
After Ali insulted President Ilham Aliyev's late mother during the band Bulistan's performance in the capital Baku, the two men were arrested along with the event's organizer Etibar Salmanli.
After the incident, a court charged all three men with petty hooliganism and ordered them to spend five to 10 days in administrative detention.
The police's violent assault on the performers at Saturday's peaceful protest must be promptly and thoroughly investigated by an impartial authority, and those responsible brought to account, said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Director
for Europe and Central Asia.
Jamal Ali and Natig Kamilov are being denied access to their families and lawyer. During their court hearing they said they had been beaten again while in police custody.
Azerbaijani authorities have effectively criminalized peaceful anti-government protest in city centres, by banning demonstrations and imprisoning those who organize and take part in them. Police frequently use excessive force to break up peaceful, but
officially unsanctioned demonstrations.
A Russian lawmaker has proposed a ten-fold increase in fines and up to 15 days' administrative arrest for insulting religious beliefs.
Under a bill proposed by United Russia Party member Alexander Sidyakin, fines for offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols would be increased from the current $17-$34 to $170-$340, RIA Novosti reported.
Sidyakin said current fines are insignificant and cannot serve as a deterrent against offending religious feelings.
He said the bill came in response to a stunt by the feminist group Pussy Riot in downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. Five masked members of the female group stormed the church to perform a punk prayer criticizing what it called the
church's links to the Kremlin. See
video of Pussy Riot's impromptu performance from
After the incident, Vsevolod Chaplin, a church spokesman, demanded blasphemy be made a criminal offense.
Two members of the Russian feminist band Pussy Riot , who were arrested on charges stemming from a
February demonstration inside a Moscow church, have now declared a hunger strike, RT reports.
Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have announced the hunger strike in protest of their arrest over the weekend and the court's decision today to keep them behind bars, supporters told the Russian news site Gazeta.ru.
Police arrested six people on Saturday on charges stemming from a Feb. 21 incident at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in which five members of the band staged a five-minute performance before police caught up to them.
The five church performers, just a few of the dozens of women who make up the band, pulled the stunt in protest of the church's alleged support of Vladimir Putin, the Moscow Internet television station SOTV reports.
Since forming last September, the group has conducted a number of flash performances in visible areas around Moscow as part of their declared mission to confront Russia's authoritarian rule, sexism, ethnic intolerance, and social atomization, the
There was plenty of support for the jailed pair at an opposition rally in Moscow, which saw up to 15,000 gather in the city centre.
Pussy vs Putin said one sign in English at the demonstration while another called for Pussy Riot for the Eurovision . One protester held up the female torso of a shop dummy with Free Pussy Riot written on the back. The two women were
included in a list of political prisoners read out from the stage.
The Judaic community of Russia has sharply condemned the recent performance by the punk group Pussy Riot in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Andrey Glotser, the press officer for Russia's chief rabbi, told Interfax-Religion:
These people did not only insult Christians, they insulted all believers. These young women turned a temple into a cheap political platform. In addition, the way they expressed their views was so inappropriate that I personally absolutely understand to
what degree they generally don't care about their fellow citizens, at least those who believe in God,
The protesters have committed blasphemy in a place where people pray to God, which means that they don't care about any temple and, if we look at the situation more broadly, they don't care about other people. Their desire to demonstrate their views was
stronger than respect for other people.
One can have different opinions personally about the activities of Vladimir Putin or any other politician, and one can have different opinions about a religion, in particular, the work of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Muslim ummah, or the Jewish
community, but this attitude does not give a person license to express his viewpoint in such barbaric ways as this group did.
More than 2,000 people have signed an open letter to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, asking the clergy not press charges,
over the Pussy Riot stunt in a church.
But Kirill has told Russian TV he was sickened by their protest and saddened that Russian orthodox believers would defend the band. He said:
Those people don't believe in the power of prayer, they believe in the power of propaganda, in the power of lies and slander, in the power of Internet and mass media, in the power of money and weapons. We believe in the power of prayer. I call on the
whole Russian Orthodox Church for passionate and diligent praying for our country, for our trust, for our people, for God to forgive us our sin.
However not all religious leaders are so unforgiving, others including Vsevolod Chaplin, the influential head of the Orthodox Church's social affairs department, have said the women should not be imprisoned.
Uzbekistan has begun blocking the popular open-source blog and social networking site LiveJournal. Although the home page and many of
the advertised articles remain accessible, blogs contributed by certain well-known authors can no longer be accessed from Uzbekistan.
Observers have assumed that the Uzbek authorities are concerned about a potential build up of protest against the re-election of Vladimir Putin as Russian President and the flawed election process that brought this result. Contributions from bloggers and
LiveJournal users have fuelled debate and protest on this subject.
A Russian court has dismissed an appeal supporting the ban of an edition of the Hindu holy book
Bhagavad Gita As It Is , in a case that triggered protests in India. The book is a used by the Hare Krishna movement.
In December, a court in the Siberian city of Tomsk had rejected a plea by prosecutors to rule the edition to be "extremist" and therefore banned.
Prosecutors had filed an appeal in the higher court against the decision and so as to re-impose the ban.
The controversial commentary on the text was written by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement. Followers in Russia saw the case as part of efforts by the Russian Orthodox Church to restrict their activities.
The Bhagvad Gita, one of the most popular texts for Hindus, takes the form of a conversation between the god Krishna and prince Arjuna.
Members of the pro-government Milliy Tiklanish (National Revival) party in Uzbekistan's lower house of parliament have
proposed a bill to protect the moral health of children and teenagers by limiting the import of foreign-made toys.
A supporting article by government-run UzDaily.uz has denounced:
toys that harm the spiritual and moral development of children and teenagers and lead to sadistic tendencies. Unfortunately, right now, our children mostly play with toys that are produced outside the country and are not tied to our national traditions.
Actor Kivanç Tatlitug starred in TV series Gümüs with the actress Songül Öden.
Three state-run televisions in Uzbekistan have banned the broadcasting of this Turkish TV series on the grounds that they contain unsuitable content.
According to local news, sources close to state television said the real reason behind banning Turkish TV series was the rebellious situation of some characters in those series.
It is also said that some scenes in the series were inappropriate to the mindset of Uzbek people.
Prosecutors in Russia's Siberian city of Tomsk have insisted that a Russian translation of the book on a Hindu scripture called Bhagavad-Gita As It Is should be banned as extremist literature, filing an appeal against an earlier court
ruling not to ban the book, a court spokeswoman said.
In late December 2011, a Siberian district court rejected a petition by prosecutors seeking a ban on the book. The petition was originally filed in June that year and the trial has prompted a flurry of criticism in international media.
Bhagavad Gita As It Is , a translation and commentary of the original Bhagavad Gita Hindu scripture, was written by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Prosecutors have claimed the book promotes extremism andsocial discord .
India has expressed concerns over the prospect of Russia banning the book, urging the Russian government to quickly resolve the issue.
Belarus labelled as Europe's only dictatorship is certainly living up to its reputation. From January 6th, browsing foreign websites
will become an offense punishable by fines, with service providers taking responsibility for the actions of their users.
New legislation requires that anyone doing business in the country may only utilize fully local Internet domains when carrying out their activities online.
As highlighted by the Law Library of Congress, this means that it will become illegal for locals to use a site such as Amazon.com, which has no official Belarusian presence. Indeed, browsing any website outside the country will be punishable with
fines of up to $125.
Additionally, the legislation will also hold Internet providers, such as cafe's providing wifi, responsible for the actions of their customers if they are found to be using foreign sites. The same responsibilities lie with home Internet subscribers
who share their connections with others.
The initial decree, issued in February 2010 by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, requires the compulsory registration of all web sites which must then be hosted in the country.
The usual sites are currently listed in the country's Top 20 most-visited list including Google, YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia, all of which have .com domains and US hosting. Indeed, only two sites in the Belarusian Top 10 currently appear to be
legal for local access.
Even Google's Belarusian variant Google.by seems to fall outside the legal reach of citizens of Belarus, hosted as it is in the United States. Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia have further problems, since the .BY variants of their domains have been
registered by other entities.
Kazakhstan's crackdown on independent media and social networking sites last month has sparked a debate about censorship.
The Kazakh government shut down Internet access and mobile phone coverage early last month in the western region of Mangistau after ongoing protests there by oil workers on strike turned violent and police killed 15 people. Journalists were denied
access to the region, and media coverage of events there have been restricted.
This strike has been a focal point for censorship, said Johann Bihr, director of Reporters Without Borders' European and Central Asia desk. The situation regarding freedom of speech in Kazakhstan has never been good, but this year especially
has seen a violent crackdown. Since it began in May, the independent media that reported this strike have been severely repressed.
For two days following the violence in Mangistau, the government blocked the social networking site Twitter across the country.
Aleksandr Danilov, a blogger in the city of Almaty in eastern Kazakhstan, said that many voices in the Kazakh online community actually support such restrictions. He wrote:
Kazakh [Internet users] actively discussed the blocking of Internet resources and opinions were divided. There were those who argued for a complete blockage of social [networking] resources in order to prevent provocations. Many
argue that by [instant] notifications from Twitter, unrest could well have been coordinated through this social network.