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30th December

 Offsite Article: Artists under pressure...

Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in Russia...Censorship in the guise of banning strong language
leviathan russiaSome of the most famous Soviet directors saw minutes of their films relegated to the cutting-room floor as a result of censors' decisions.

See article from rbth.co.uk

 

29th November

  Russia Recommends...


Nice 'n' Naughty

US metal band, Cannibal Corpse
Link Here
CANNIBAL CORPSE LIVE CANNIBALISM DVD The Oktyabrsky District Court of Ufa has ruled that the translations of lyrics by Cannibal Corpse , a US metal band, be banned from distribution in Russia due to violent content, RIA Novosti reports citing Senior Aide to Prosecutor of Bashkortostan, Guzel Masagutova.

The Prosecutor's Office of Bashkortostan filed a suit with the court claiming that lyrics by the band could damage the mental health of children because they contain descriptions of violence, the physical and mental abuse of people and animals, murder and suicide, all accompanied by illustrations.

The Ufa court agreed  and upheld the claim.

 

28th November

 Update: Forever Blocked...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Russia extends anti-piracy law and takes the opportunity to impose further controls on other website operators
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flag Starting next May, Russian websites guilty of more than one copyright violation will be permanently blocked. The move comes as part of a new anti-piracy bill signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, ramping up what many critics see as an already draconian set of copyright protection rules. Once a website is blocked by a court decision, it cannot be unblocked, according to the bill.

The bill extends a previous measure that was limited to video production, but amendments approved by Putin this week expand it to include all kinds of copyrighted content such as books, music and software. The only exception made is for photographs.

The amendments also oblige website owners to disclose their real names, postal addresses and e-mail addresses on the site.

An online petition against the amendments gathered more than 100,000 signatures in August, mandating a governmental review, but has so far been ignored by the relevant officials.

 

17th November

 Update: An Encyclopedia of Propaganda...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Russia plans to replace US Wikipedia with Russian Wikipedia
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
wikipedia logo The Russian government is claiming that Wikipedia is US propaganda so plans to create a home grown variant able to provide proper Russian propaganda.

Newsweek notes that the move is the result of an analysis by Russia's National Library that claimed the U.S. website's content on Russia unreliable. It reported:

An analysis of [Wikipedia] showed it was incapable of providing Russian regions with reliable and comprehensive information about the life of the nation.

The Russian government claims their website will objectively reflect the country, its population and the diversity of the Russian nation, according to the statement.

 

13th November

 Update: Political Censorship...

Ofcom censures Russia Today news channel for biased reporting of the Ukraine crisis
Link Here
russia today international logo Propaganda channel, Russia Today, has launched a dedicated UK TV channel that broadcasts five hours of programmes a day made out of its new London studios.

But it hasn't taken before the UK TV censor Ofcom has got involved to investigate the channel for biased news.

The channel has already been threatened with statutory sanctions by Ofcom after the Kremlin-backed news channel breached broadcasting regulations on impartiality with its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

Russia Today, or RT, was summoned to a meeting with Ofcom after it was found guilty of breaching the code governing UK broadcasters in a ruling published  this week.

The censor flagged up four separate reports, all broadcast in March this year, all dealing with the situation in Ukraine. Ofcom said it recognised that RT, which is funded by the Russian government and launched a UK version last month , would want to present the news from a Russian perspective . But it said all news must be presented with due impartiality ... in particular, when reporting on matters of major political controversy .

It follows three previous breaches of impartiality rules, and Ofcom called for a meeting with the broadcaster to discuss compliance with regard to its due impartiality . It said it had put the channel on notice that any future breaches of the due impartiality rules may result in further regulatory action, including consideration of a statutory sanction .

 

28th October

  Well Versed in Repression...

Kazakhstan hands out massive fine for advert depicting well known poets kissing
Link Here
havas worldwide advert An advertising agency in Kazakhstan has been handed a large fine for a poster of revered bard Kurmangazy locked in a passionate kiss with Alexander Pushkin, Russia's national poet.

Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan says it can't pay the 34 million tenge ($186,000) fine, and plans to appeal. The agency's general director Dariya Khamitzhanova said the ruling is:

nonsense. Not one of the 34 plaintiffs appeared in court. The whole hearing was marred by procedural violations,

The poster appeared in social media in August, enraging anti-gay activists who complained to the police that it insulted Kazakhs and Russians. Thirty-four staff and students of Kurmangazy Conservatory, in the southern city of Almaty, filed a suit last month demanding a million tenge each in moral damages.

 

30th September

 Update: Defacement...

Russia moves forward a deadline for social media internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russian Duma logo Russia's State Duma (parliament) has approved a bill to accelerate a new set of Internet restrictions that will provide for the banning of such web services as Facebook, Booking.com and Amazon.

A law requiring all online companies to store users' personal data on Russian territory was passed last July and was set to enter into effect in September 2016, but then awmakers submitted a bill to move the deadline forward by more than a year. The bill to set the deadline to Jan. 1, 2015, has now passed the crucial second reading.

Lobbying group the Information & Computer Technologies Industry Association said in an open letter on Monday that the rule would cripple Russia's IT industry. Russia simply lacks the technical facilities to host databases with users' personal data, and setting up the infrastructure within the remaining three months is impossible, the letter said. , The group said on its website:

Most companies will be forced to put their operations on hold, inflicting untold damage on the Russian economy

But their appeal failed to sway lawmakers, who fast-tracked the bill --- a procedure that, most political pundits say, implies endorsement from the Kremlin.

 

29th September

  A substandard educational message...

Kazakhstan's education ministry bullies children's TV for showing SpongeBob
Link Here
Spongebob Squarepants Season 8 DVD

SpongeBob SquarePants, the Nickelodeon cartoon character who works as a fry cook at the bottom of the sea, corrupts the young minds of children and promotes hooligan behavior, according to Kazakhstan's education ministry.

 the New York Daily News reported that the country regards the character as a bully, who regularly inflicts violence on others in his community and seems to enjoy what he does,

Zabira Orazalieva responsible for children's rights at the Kazakh Education and Science Ministry, said:

SpongeBob beats up his neighbor, misbehaves and enjoys that. This hooligan behavior stays in the child's minds. They [see SpongeBob] as a role model and try to re-enact [his behavior] in real life.

She went on to blast cable channels like Nickelodeon and France's TiJi for running cartoons that promote a substandard educational message, as well as parents who let children watch the cartoons unsupervised.

 

20th August

 Update: Russia Just Doubled Its Internet Surveillance Program...

Explaining some of the details of Russia's mass internet snooping capability
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

federal security service logo Under the Kremlin's Internet surveillance program known as SORM-2 , Russian Internet service providers are obligated to purchase and install special equipment that allows the Federal Security Service (FSB) to track specific words (like bomb or government ) in online writing and conversation. If officials request additional information about a particular user, the ISP must comply.

Until recently, SORM-2 applied only to ISPs. Last week, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree that will expand SORM-2's reach to online social networks and all websites that allow people to message one another. Sites like Facebook and Google are now obligated to install surveillance gadgetry, sometimes referred to as backdoors, that will allow the FSB to monitor Internet users independently. It's impossible to say exactly how this will work, as Medvedev's order prohibits websites from disclosing the technical details of the government's surveillance operations.

Decree N743 is intended to amend the controversial Law on Bloggers, which created a government registry for bloggers who have more than 3,000 daily readers. Registered bloggers are subject to media-focused regulations that can make them more vulnerable to fines and lawsuits than their less popular counterparts. Registered bloggers also are banned from using obscene language and required to fact-check any information they publish. Critics say the law places serious curbs on Internet freedom.

Medvedev's decision to extend Internet surveillance mechanisms to social networks surprised Russia's Internet companies. A PR officer from Yandex, the country's largest search engine, said the company received no advanced notice of the change.

Once again, it's unclear what we're supposed to do, what the actual requirements are, and how much all this will cost, said Anton Malginov, legal head of the Mail.ru, which owns Odnoklassniki.ru, one of Russia's most popular social networks. Businesses are still awaiting clarification from Russia's Communications Ministry.

If the government chooses to enforce every letter of Medvedev's decree, Russia's social networks will join ISPs in buying and installing equipment that allows the FSB to spy on users. Thus SORM-2 would have its 2.0.

At first glance, SORM 2.0 seems redundant, as social network traffic already passes through the wiretaps now installed at the ISP level. In order to obtain detailed information about individual users, however, the FSB must file formal requests, which can be a burdensome process. Installing surveillance instruments at the source of the data, however, will grant authorities the power to conduct targeted realtime surveillance. The procedure will be faster and simpler than dealing with ISPs.

Before August 1, websites were under no obligation to record and store users' data. The Law on Bloggers changed that. Since August 1, even before Medvedev interpreted the blogger law to be an extension of SORM-2, social networks have been required to keep certain information on file for six months. The costs of this storage will undoubtedly fall on businesses and, in turn, consumers. Websites that cannot attract additional advertising revenue might erect paywalls or even be forced to close down. These massive data stores can also be vulnerable to malicious hacking by third party actors.

And the degree to which extending SORM-2 controls to social networks will help authorities catch criminals remains largely unknown.

How should bloggers respond to these developments? Most Russian Internet users don't have to worry about anything. As Anton Nossik, one of the founding fathers of the RuNet, put it almost a year ago, the government's actions against bloggers are politically driven. For the most part, Russia's new laws don't threaten Internet users who steer clear of politics. Those who do speak out about sociopolitical issues, however, might attract the FSB's sudden attention, though there are only enough federal police to keep a close eye on the country's leading dissidents.

Of course, that may be little solace in a world where Big Brother never sleeps.

 

12th August

 Update: Could real-time Internet blocking algorithms be coming to Russia?...

Moving beyond lists of blocked websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia flag With the RuNet already plagued by Roskomnadzor blacklists, blogger registration, and the blocking of Twitter accounts with no discernible justification, Russia now wants to introduce an automated real-time filtering system that will block websites that contain harmful content.

The proposed plan would add a second layer of censorship to Russia's already-pervasive website blacklist system , under which ISPs are required to block all websites containing calls to riots, extremist activities, the incitement of ethnic and (or) sectarian hatred, terrorist activity, or participation in public events held in breach of appropriate procedures.

According to an ITAR-TASS report , Russia would require ISPs to install smart filters that would screen and block harmful content , which would presumably be identified based on a pre-determined list of keywords. The smart filtering idea and its technical details have been proposed by the Safe Internet League, a Kremlin-loyal NGO partnering with several large Russian ISPs.

Safe Internet League executive director Denis Davydov explains that existing blacklists are not great at filtering out dangerous content, and says their system, once installed at the level of ISPs, could analyze web content in real time and easily block offensive pages:

We suggest introducing preemptive Internet filtering, which allows us to automatically determine the content of the page queried by the user in real time. The system evaluates the content on the page and determines the category which the information belongs to. In case the category is forbidden, the system blocks the webpage automatically.

The typically snarky personalities of the RuNet thought the League's new initiative would do nothing to create a safer online environment -- instead, the added layer of algorithmic bureaucracy would only contribute to the existing limits already imposed on netizens in Russia, and would make the users work even harder to access their preferred content.

Earlier this summer, Duma deputy Yelena Mizulina had already proposed an automated Internet filtering system in an attempt to protect the minds of Russia's youngsters. Mizulina demanded that the Internet service providers block adult Web content by default in an effort to create a Clean Internet. Consumers would be allowed to opt out of the filtration system, but only by making a special request to their ISP.

Davydov says developers at the Safe Internet League have already tested their two-step filtration model in Kostroma and Omsk regions, as well as the Komi Republic, and have found it works quite well (or so he says). Should the system go into broader use, it will generate a significant escalation of state attempts to control the Russian Internet. Users have found multiple ways of getting around blocks generated by blacklists, using VPNs and other circumvention tools to view their favorite blacklisted websites. If the smart filtering system is indeed implemented, one can only guess how quickly Russian netizens will learn to work around the new, ever-pervasive Internet controls.

 

24th July

 Update: Launching a Missile at the US internet giants...

Putin signs law requiring US social network giants to keep their data about Russian users in local databases
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
vladimir putin Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new law to strengthen the country's ability to censor the internet.

Starting in 2016, the new law will require Internet operators to store Russian user data in centres within the country. Once data is stored on Russian servers, it will be subjected to Russian laws, putting it at risk for censorship. Companies that don't comply will be blocked from the web.

The move seems particularly targeted at US social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, that are based in the US and have previously proved elusive of Russian internet censors.

The new law came as part of a flurry of new legislation , including a law prohibiting protests. Some of the Internet operators targeted have warned that two years is not enough time to comply with the law, according to a Agence France-Presse report.

Internet expert and blogger Anton Nossik told the Moscow Times of the data storage law:

The ultimate goal is to shut mouths, enforce censorship in the country and shape a situation where Internet business would not be able to exist and function properly.

Update: New law comes into force

5th August 2014. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

A new law imposing restrictions on users of social media has come into effect in Russia.

It means bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and conform to the regulations that govern the country's larger media outlets.

It includes measures to ensure that bloggers cannot remain anonymous, and states that social networks must maintain six months of data on its users. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.

 

11th July

 Update: Everything You Need to Know About Russia's Internet Crackdown...

Putin's routemap to trashing the internet
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
putin trashing internet The number of restrictions placed on the Internet in Russia since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012 is daunting. What's been outlawed and what's still legal on the RuNet? To help people keep track of what's what in Russian cyberspace, RuNet Echo has compiled a chronological list of the most important laws to hit the Russian Internet in the past two years. For each law, readers can find links to the legislation's full text in Russian, as well as RuNet Echo articles in English describing the details and significance of each initiative.

The law that launched a thousand ships: creating the RuNet Blacklist

[The full text in Russian. RuNet Echo's commentary in English.]

Signed by Putin on July 28, 2012. This is law that launched the crackdown on Internet freedom in Russia. The law created a government registry for websites found to contain materials deemed harmful to children. Illegal content under this law includes child pornography, drug paraphernalia, and instructions about self-harm. Without a court order, Russia's federal communications agency is able to add to the registry any website hosting such material. Later laws have allowed police to blacklist other kinds of websites, too, using the infrastructure created here.

The 'Russian SOPA'

[The full text of the original law in Russian. The text of the updated draft legislation. RuNet Echo's commentary in English .]

Signed on July 2, 2013. Often referred to as the "Russian SOPA," this is an anti-piracy law that allows courts to block websites accused of hosting stolen intellectual property. What ultimately reached Putin's desk in July 2013 was a somewhat watered-down version of the initial legislation, which called for applying the law to a wide variety of content. (The law's final text addressed only stolen films.) The Russian Parliament is poised , however, to pass a new bill later this year that will expand the law's application to music, e-books, and software.

Blacklisting the news

[The full text in Russian. RuNet Echo's commentary in English.]

Signed on December 28, 2013. This law gives Russia's Attorney General the extrajudicial power to add to the RuNet Blacklist any websites containing "calls to riots, extremist activities, the incitement of ethnic and (or) sectarian hatred, terrorist activity, or participation in public events held in breach of appropriate procedures." In March 2014, police used this law to block four major opposition websites, including three news portals and the blog of Russia's most prominent anti-corruption activist. Since the law passed last year, the Attorney General as blacklisted 191 different Web addresses .

The law that got away: policing news-aggregators

In April 2014, Putin revealed at a public forum that the government was investigating the legal status of online news-aggregation services like Yandex News. In May, a Duma deputy asked the Russian Attorney General to issue a ruling about the status of Yandex News, to determine if the state should regulate such websites as mass media outlets. In early June, Yandex's CEO joined Putin onstage at a forum on Internet entrepreneurship, where the two chatted amicably about the RuNet's economic potential. On July 1, Russian newspapers reported that the Attorney General does not consider news-aggregation to qualify as mass media, aborting the Duma's effort to impose new regulations on Yandex News and similar websites.

The anti-terrorism package, aka "the Bloggers Law"

[The full text in Russian. RuNet Echo's commentary in English.]

Signed on May 5, 2014. This package consisted of three separate laws, hurried through the Duma after terrorist attacks in the city of Volgograd in December 2013. Two of the laws added new Internet regulations, creating restrictions on electronic money transfers (banning all foreign financial transactions involving anonymous parties) and extensive requirements for governing the activity of "popular bloggers" and the data retention of certain websites and online networks. The "law on bloggers" takes effect on August 1, 2014, creating a new registry especially for citizen-media outlets with daily audiences bigger than three thousand people. Bloggers added to this registry face a series of new regulations (against obscene language, libel, and so on), increasing their vulnerability to criminal prosecution.

Hard time for retweets

[The full text in Russian. RuNet Echo's commentary in English.]

Signed on June 28, 2014. This law allows the government to hand down five-year prison sentences to people who re-disseminate extremist materials online. The "law against retweets" codifies an existing police practice, but making the policy official could increase the number of such prosecutions in the future.

A digital Gulag

[The full text in Russian. RuNet Echo's commentary in English .]

Passed by the Duma on July 4, 2014. This legislation still awaits the Senate's approval and Putin's signature. The law, if passed, will require all websites that store user data about Russian citizens to house that data on servers located inside Russia. According to the legislation's logic, websites will be barred from storing Russian users' personal data anywhere outside of Russia (though the law's actual text is somewhat vague on this point, perhaps because of jurisdictional limitations on what Russia can mandate outside its borders). The law applies to a wide variety of websites, ranging from e-booking services to Facebook, affecting any website or online service operating on the concept of "users."

 

7th July

 Update: No and No...

Russian film banned under new legislation banning strong language
Link Here  full story: Film Censorship in Russia...Censorship in the guise of banning strong language
da-i-da Yes and Yes (Da i Da) is a 2014 Russia drama by Valeriya Gay Germanika.
Starring Vladimir Dubosarsky, Aleksandr Gorchilin and Agniya Kuznetsova. IMDb

Actress Agniya Kuznetsova plays an inquisitive girl from the outskirts of Moscow, embarking on a coming-of-age adventure in the city's bohemian art community.

Russia's new anti-obscenity law, that came into force on 1st July, has forced Vologda's VOICES Film Festival  to pull its screening of Valeria Gai Germanika's Yes and Yes (Da i Da) .

However, the extensive use of strong language means that the film's producers have not been able to obtain a distribution certificate to release the film in Russian cinemas. Under the new legislation, films containing foul language will be banned from general release.

The film, which had its European premiere at last week's Moscow International Film Festival and won four awards including best director and the FIPRESCI Prize. In a last minute decision, a limited release was organised in five Moscow cinemas in the three days leading up to the law coming into effect which resulted in good box office.

Kremlin propaganda claims that the new law is meant to ensure the protection and development of linguistic culture , but critics say it is reminiscent of Soviet-era censorship.

 

22nd June

  God's Swill...

Religious group calls for the cancellation of a Moscow Marilyn Manson gig on grounds of blasphemy
Link Here
Marilyn Manson Beautiful People DVD Russian Orthodox Christians have called on Moscow authorities to ban a performance by the rock singer Marilyn Manson.

The religious group, God's Will, claims that Manson's performances contravene Russian anti-blasphemy laws. Group spokesman Dmitry Tsorionov told RIA Novosti that believers condemned the

Blasphemy and profanity of his [Manson's] song lyrics but mostly his behaviour during performances. The burning and destruction of the Bible is an integral part of his show. For example, the culmination of his concert in St Petersburg was the destruction of a Bible in front of an enthusiastic crowd that he had brought to an absolutely inadequate state.

The organisation also said Manson's performances were full of elements insulting to the feelings of believers and promoted religious hatred, cruelty, murder, suicide, sexual perversion and Satanism among young people, including minors .

A gig in Novosibirsk scheduled for 29 June has been cancelled by city authorities after about 400 people took part in a demonstration against the proposed performance.

 

19th June

  Ordered to Forget...

Russian bans film depicting the mass burning alive of Chechens under the rule of Stalin
Link Here
film burning barn Seventy years after Chechens were deported en masse to Central Asia on the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, a film about the brutalities of the operation has been banned, with officials citing the threat of provoking ethnic enmity.

Russia's Culture Ministry has also claimed insufficient evidence to prove that the dramatic enactment is historically accurate, the film's producer and director Ruslan Kokanayev said on his Facebook page.

At the center of the dispute is a scene, featured in a movie trailer that the filmmaker has posted online, that shows Chechen prisoners in the mountainous village of Khaibakh being locked up in a barn by Stalin's secret police and burned alive.

Though the film titled Ordered to Forget makes no claims to being a historical documentary, Kokanayev has insisted that its plot, including the barn scene, is based on detailed testimony by multiple witnesses and on historical evidence.

 

9th June

 Update: 3 Ways the Russian Government Plans to Police the Web...

Russia wants to be able to snoop on internet users like what the the west does
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flag A new Russian law will go into effect on August 1, 2014, that requires a wide array of websites and online services to register formally with the government. Sites and applications that allow Internet users to communicate will be obligated to store the past six months of user-data on servers located inside Russia, making the information available to Russian law enforcement. Several state agencies are now involved in drafting bylaws that will determine how officials actually enforce the new Internet laws.

Four draft bylaws are making headlines in Russian newspapers. The proposed bylaws contain three main points:

  1. Websites and applications will be required to archive virtually every kind of information about their users (logins, email addresses, contacts lists, all changes to a user's account, a list of all accessed DNS servers, and so on). The actual content of the messages exchanged online, however, does not need to be archived.

  2. Sites and services that exist for personal, family, or household needs are exempt from the law, though this exception does not apply to the exchange of information of a public-political nature or to conversations where the number of participants is indefinite . Online commerce, scientific and educational activity, and things like job searches are also exempt.

  3. Finally, the Russian Federal Security Service (the equivalent of the American FBI) will offer websites and applications the opportunity to opt out of the data-archiving requirement, if they grant the government full, real-time access to their data. In this case, Russian police would obtain unrestricted access to Internet users' data, which officials would themselves archive.

It is this third point that could prove the most curious in the enforcement of Russia's new Internet regulations. How many websites and applications will decide to open entirely to the government, to spare themselves the trouble and expense of selecting and storing user-data according to the new laws? Is the Kremlin betting that it can gain full access to the RuNet by offering this loophole? Or is this a ploy by federal police to bleed the state budget of more funding, creating the need for subsidies to be plundered?

 

22nd May

 Offsite Article: HARDtalk about Belarus on BBC...

Link Here  full story: Belarus Free Theatre...Brave underground theatre group
hardtalk koliada

See article from charter97.org

 

19th May

 Update: Propaganda Coup...

Moscow predictably bans March of the Bearded Women and Men
Link Here  full story: Gay in Russia...Russia bans gay parades and legislates against gay rights
conchita wurst Moscow's security department denied an application for the Conchita Wurst March of Bearded Women and Men, which was due to have taken place to mark the 21st anniversary of homosexuality's legalisation in Russia.

Wurst, the drag queen persona of Austria's Thomas Neuwirth, has become an icon for Europe's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and a flashpoint for Russia's debate over gay rights.

Nikolay Alexeyev, founder of Moscow Pride told Pravda that they plan to urgently appeal the mayor's decision; even if unsuccessful, they will try to merge the event with a proposed gay pride parade on May 31. They face an uphill battle: in 2012, Moscow city government enacted a 100-year ban on pride marches.

Russia's anti-gay protesters have been campaigning against Eurovision for weeks, calling it a Europe-wide gay parade . The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay, said St Petersburg's notorious legislator Vitaly Milonov, who led the drive for Russia's anti-gay laws banning gay information from public speheres.

 

17th May

 Offsite Article: Vladimir Putin and the rise of swearbots...

Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
swear boxRussia generating automatic software to seek out strong language on websites resulting in large fines

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

14th May

  Sims 4 Sins...

Russian games censors award an 18 rating to Sims 4 over its inclusion of gay relationships
Link Here
Sims Limited PC DVD Sims 4 is the latest in a long running series of computer games. It has been given a PEGI 12 rating in Europe.

But Russian censorship authorities have given the game an 18+ age rating because its portrayal of same-sex relationships contravenes a law protecting children from information harmful to their health and development.

A tweet clarified (via Google Translate) that the restrictive age rating was assigned in according with the law number 436-FZ, 'On the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development.' This law was originally passed in 2010 to prohibit the distribution to children of material that may elicit fear, horror or panic, or that depicts violence, unlawful activities, substance abuse or self-harm, but was updated in 2013 to include propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships.

 

6th May

  Censors Run Riot...

Russia bans 32nd May Film Festival featuring documentaries highlighting human rights issues
Link Here
Pussy Riot Punk Prayer DVD The May 32nd Film Festival had to cancel its opening event after Saint Petersburg officials claimed unlikely sounding local code violations.

This is the fourth year of the documentary film fest, but the first time it has been disrupted. Organizers say it always attracted a degree of attention from authorities over its human rights theme, but not anything like the scrutiny they've experienced this year.

Festival organizer Ksenia Vakhrusheva said police old her:

You all have such controversial topics raised in those films, and it is on the eve of the May 9th celebration, and we have such difficult circumstances in Ukraine.

She added that authorities, let us know that our event is completely unwanted.

Two films in the lineup this year were particularly controversial. The first one, called Putin's Games , is about corruption and ecological damage during preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The second film is Pussy riot: A Punk Prayer , which won a special jury prize at last year's Sundance film festival.

Boris Vishnevsky, a representative in the Saint Petersburg legislature from the Yabloko opposition party said:

God forbid people would see some opposition on the screen and discover some truth. We are not allowed to find out the truth. We are only allowed to see what is shown on the government channels and state media like Russia Today.

The films will be shown at the Yabloko party office starting tomorrow. The organizers say they expect a lower turnout and don't rule out the possibility of more difficulties from authorities.

 

27th April

 Updated: Silenced Movies...

Russian proposal to ban strong language from cinema films and stage performances
Link Here
russian film poster Russia's repressive culture ministry and Parliament are seeking to censor strong language in theater and film.

The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's parliament, is preparing to adopt a law authored by Stanislav Govorukhin. It will be aimed at banning the use of strong language in the arts. A year ago, a similar law restricting strong language on TV was adopted.

Minister of Censorship. Vladimir Medinsky, known for his repressive views, said that he supports the law and his agency will make sure that movies containing profanity will not obtain exhibition licenses. He said:

I believe that if a movie has a general release, it shouldn't have any profane language. Our stance is that profanity shouldn't be present on [theater] stage or in the movies.

He added that movies containing profanity could only be screened at film festivals as screenings of that kind don't require exhibition licenses.

The law is unlikely to affect Hollywood movies, though, as bad language in them has been traditionally translated into Russian using softer terms that are not considered profane.

Update: Bill passed

27th April 2014. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Russian Duma logo The Russian parliament's lower house has passed a bill that bans swearing from films, music and other works of art.

The measure would impose fines for swearing in films, plays, concerts and shows, the Itar-Tass news agency reports . In addition, members of the public could face penalties of up to 2,500 roubles (£42; $70) for swearing in public and officials would have to pay double.

The bill says a panel of experts will decide exactly what counts as a swear word. If the measure is approved by the upper house, it will be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin and take effect on 1 July 2014.

 

23rd April

 Update: Unchecked Censorship...

Russian Dumas approves law to extended news media censorship to bloggers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling

Russian Duma logo The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on President Vladimir Putin to veto a new bill that would subject popular bloggers to the same restrictions as traditional media in Russia. The bill was approved by Russia's parliament, the State Duma, in its final reading.

The bill would apply to blogs with more than 3,000 daily visitors. As with other laws recently adopted in Russia, the language of the bill is broad and open to wide-ranging interpretation and selective implementation by government agencies. It bans bloggers from using their platforms for committing crimes, divulging state secrets, publishing extremist materials, as well as propagating pornography, the cult of violence, and cruelty, according to local press reports . They would also be banned from using swear words, the news agency Itar-Tass reported.

The bill would also require the bloggers to publish their real names and contact details, news reports said. They would be allowed to publish only confirmed information and could be punished for distributing unchecked facts , the news website Lenta reported. Punishment for violating the law would range from a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (US$14,000) to suspension of blogging activities for up to 30 days.

CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said:

We call on President Vladimir Putin to veto this restrictive bill that, if passed, will censor the remaining independent voices in Russian media. The broad restrictions laid out by this legislation invite both its abuse by Russian authorities to silence their critics and self-censorship on the part of bloggers in order to avoid potential repercussions.

If signed into law, the new bill will go into effect on August 1, the Russian press reported.

 

9th April

  Propaganda Games...

Russian lawmakers consider measures to censor computer games
Link Here
Russian Duma logo Russian lawmakers are thinking about new legislation for the censorship of computer games.

Some of the proposals are a little bit more novel than simply introducing mandatory age restrictions. For instance, the Ukrainian crisis and a controversial game it has spawned, namely, a multiplayer game called Maidan , referring to the Independence Square, the ground zero for Ukrainian protests which began last year, have prompted Russian legislators to look into tighter regulation of the industry.

State Duma deputy Oleg Mikheev has drawn up a bill which prohibits videogames, which spread war propaganda, national and religious hatred and strife and introduces fines for distribution of pro-Nazi games. He said:

The Ukrainian events have shown that comprehensive harsh punitive measures for crimes of indirect propaganda and justification of Nazism is a burning political issue. Such propaganda is being spread through seemingly innocent media -- videogames. Their real agenda may be defamation of Russia's historic past, its current status and creation of the country's negative image for both foreign nationals and our compatriots. We need to fight that.

Other deputies so far have supported this legal initiative. Vadim Dengin, a deputy who often pens bills related to the digital world, suggested that the new bill can protect children and adolescents from anti-Russian propaganda. While he stressed that governmental regulation of videogames is needed, he noted that the final version of the bill will take into consideration opinions of experts, such as gamers, psychologists and other specialists with knowledge of this issue.

There is a similar initiative targeting websites. The Federation Council has proposed introducing a harsher law on protection of the younger generation from information which may harm their health or development. If the proposed bill passes, websites will have to mark their content, warning children and their parents of potentially harmful media. This includes media which uses special tricks in order to affect the subconscious, causing disorders of moral, spiritual and psychological development. The same goes for media which provokes children to conduct anti-social and illegal actions and actions, potentially harmful to their life or health. The list also includes intimidating information -- media, which can cause recurrent fears, panic or horror.

 

15th March

 Update: In Check...

Russia Blocks Access to Major Independent News Sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flag Russia's government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. The country's ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov's opposition information site kasparov.ru, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

The list of newly prohibited sites was published earlier today by Russia's Prosecutor General, which announced that the news sites had been entered into the single register of banned information after calls for participation in unauthorized rallies. Navalny's livejournal was apparently added to the register in response to the conditions of his current house arrest , which include a personal prohibition on accessing the Internet.

EFF is profoundly opposed to government censorship of the Internet, which violates its citizens right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are especially concerned about the censorship of independent news and opposing political views, which are essential to a thriving civil society. Russians who wish to circumvent government censorship can continue to read these websites via the Tor Browser, which they can install using the Tor Browser Bundle .

 

27th February

 Offsite Article: Four parts of Sochi 2014 the Russians didn't want their citizens to see...

Link Here
sochi 2014 logoSome of the biggest talking points from the Winter Olympics were muted in the host country

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

24th February

  Silenced...

Azerbaijan enclave bans foreign music
Link Here

Azerbaijan flag The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It has a bit of history censorial pronouncements.

And the latest is that the Nakhijevan TV and Radio broadcasts Committee has banned foreign music from being broadcast. Now exclusively Azerbaijani music sounds on Nakhijevan radio.

The ban includes also such genres as rock, rap, including the Azerbaijani language, and which is most surprising Turkish songs as well.

The head of the Nakhijevan Autonomy Vasif Talibov, who was included in the list of the world's predators of press by the organization of Reporters without Borders , is known for a number of extravagant bans. In November 2013 he banned giving foreign names to trade centers in Nakhijevan. In August he forbade the women serving in governmental offices to wear nylon pantyhose.

 

3rd February

 Update: Anti-Gay Propaganda...

Russian newspaper fined for quoting a teacher who said that gay sex is normal
Link Here  full story: Gay in Russia...Russia bans gay parades and legislates against gay rights
Russia flag A Russian court has fined a newspaper editor for publishing an interview with a gay school teacher who was quoted as saying homosexuality is normal.

Alexander Suturin, editor of the Molodoi Dalnevostochnik, a weekly published in the city of Khabarovsk, was ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 rubles (£870) for supposedly publishing gay propaganda .

The prosecutor claimed that the statement: My very existence is effective proof that homosexuality is normal, goes against logic. She said:

By offering it to underage readers, the author is misleading them about the normality of homosexuality.

Suturin is to appeal against the ruling.

 

1st February

 Update: Not So Extreme...

Koran unbanned in Russia
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Russia...Religious works found to be extremist
Russia flag A Krasnodar court has overturned a ban on a popular Russian translation of the Koran (though the court has still not issued the written ruling), while a Tver court has overturned a ban in Russia on the main Jehovah's Witness international website.

Yet bans on religious literature amid controversial extremism accusations continue, Forum 18 News Service notes. Four more Jehovah's Witness texts were ruled extremist in December 2013. And no moves have taken place to lift a less publicised extremism ban on 68 Islamic texts, Nirzhigit Dolubayev, a lawyer representing one of the publishers in the case, told Forum 18.

Fines continue on mosques and individuals for possessing any of the 68 books - which include collections of hadiths [sayings of the religious character Mohammed].

 

31st January

 Update: TV Rain...

Major Moscow TV providers drop independent channel that poked old wounds
Link Here
tv rain russia logo A Russian television station that made its name covering massive street protests against President Vladimir Putin has been taken off the air by three television providers in a move the channel's chief said was censorship.

Dozhd (TV Rain), an independent-minded television station with a strong online presence, has aired aggressive reporting critical of Russian authorities and even-handed broadcasts on Ukraine's anti-government protests.

General Director Natalia Sindeyeva said three providers had dropped the channel in and around Moscow. The station was still available on two major providers in the Moscow area.

The Dozhd has been under pressure since it ran exposes on expensive property owned by high-ranking Kremlin officials. And more recently Dozhd has faced criticism after poking old wounds by asking if Leningrad, now St Petersburg, should have been given to Nazi Germany to save lives during a 872-day blockade during World War Two.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian agency Interfax that the survey was beyond what was acceptable from the moral and ethical point of view of our people .

 

31st January

  Banning Reality...

Photos of village life censored as tarnishing Uzbekistan's image
Link Here
neformat Several photographs were removed from an exhibition at the Tashkent House of Photography on January 25 after authorities deemed them as tarnishing the country's image.

The exhibit presented by the Tashkent-based Neformat (The one on the fringe) had already been successfully shown in the Russian city of Uglich, and in the capital of Belarus, Minsk.

It took almost two months for the exhibit organizers to get the artworks approved for showing, including obtaining the authorization from the Art Council chairman Akmal Nur, who eventually gave the green light for the exhibition and all of its photographs.

However an hour before the show was to open Nur ordered two photo series to be removed as well as several captions to be covered up, in a dramatic act of censorship.

It seems likely that the authorities simply did not like their content -- the lives of poor villagers going about their simple daily tasks among very run-down infrastructure. Umida Akhmedova, a prominent photographer explained that it is no longer advisable to document poverty in Uzbekistan.

 

29th January

 Offsite Article: The Olympic Sport of Downhill Sliding...

Link Here  full story: News Censorship in Russia...Reporters murdered, media silenced
sochi 2014 logoMedia suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics

See article from cpj.org

 

22nd January

 Update: State Control of the Internet...

Russian parliament debates more onerous bills controlling information and money on the internet
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russian Duma logo Another Internet crackdown appears to be looming in Russia, where the Duma is reviewing three new pieces of proposed anti-terror legislation that could place hefty restrictions on the activities of website operators and civil society organizers.

Two of the bills address government surveillance powers---one would create new requirements obliging website operators to report on the every move of their users, while another addresses penalties for terror-related crimes. The third would set new restrictions for individuals and organizations accepting anonymous donations through online services like PayPal, a measure that could have an especially strong impact on small civil society groups.

The first of the three bills  creates new requirements for mandatory archives and notifications, granting the federal government wide jurisdiction. The most concerning article of the bill stipulates that individuals or legal entities who [organize] the dissemination of information and (or) the exchange of information between Internet users are obligated to store all information about the arrival, transmission, delivery, and processing of voice data, written text, images, sounds, or other kinds of action that occur when using their website. At all times, data archives must include the most recent six months of activity.

It appears that this obligation would apply to the owners and operators of websites and services ranging from multinational services like Facebook to small community blogs and discussion platforms.

Website organizers must also inform Russian security services when users first begin using their sites, and whenever users exchange information. Taken literally, this requirement could create a nearly impossible task for administrators of blogs, social media sites, and other discussion platforms with large quantities of users.

The second bill would broaden police powers and raise penalties for terrorism.

Finally, the third piece of legislation would place new limits on online money transfers. This draft law would raise limits on anonymous online financial transactions and ban all international online financial transactions, where the electronic money operator (e.g., PayPal, Yandex.Dengi, WebMoney) does not know the client's legal identity. The legislation also raises operating costs for NGOs, requiring them to report on every three thousand dollars spent in foreign donations. (Currently, NGOs must report on every six thousand such dollars.)

 

18th January

  Belarus Further Damages Its Bad Reputation...

By banning a book written by a political prisoner
Link Here
enlightened by belarus ales bialiatski According to Belarusian authorities, a book by political prisoner Ales Bialiatski can damage the image of the country. Bialiatski is serving four-and-a-half years in prison, nominally for tax evasion, but the international community see his prison sentence as punishment for his principled stance in support of human rights.

In July 2013 Customs confiscated 40 copies of Bialiatski's book Enlightened by Belarus , as they were being transferred from Lithuania, where they had been published, to Belarus. The book has been included on a blacklist of goods that are barred from the territory of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. After it was first inspected, authorities concluded it could be harmful for the image of the Republic of Belarus .

Enlightened by Belarus is a collection of essays on the history of the Belarusian literature. Several essays contain critical assessments of literary works by Belarusian political prisoners, like Uladzimir Niakliaeu and Aliaksandr Fiaduta.

Ales introduced a notion of 'Belarusian prison literature'. In fact his book points out that for decades writers in Belarus have been persecuted and put in prisons, from the times of the Czar Russia and Soviet repression, to present day, says Tatsiana Raviaka, adding that the state censors cannot allow free distribution of the views on the literary process presented in Bialiatski's book. She and her colleagues from Human Rights Centre Viasna are going to appeal the ban.

 

14th January

  Ticket to Ride...

Tajikistan mayor bans anything but islamic music on buses
Link Here
Tajikistan flag The mayor of Dushanbe has banned non-traditional music from the Tajik capital's buses, it's reported.

According to US-backed Radio Ozodi , mayor Makhmadsaid Ubaidulloev signed a decree outlawing music that is alien to national and universal human values . The ban includes rock and rap music which glorifies criminality, sexual content and music that propagates non-traditional Islam .

Apparently a public hotline has been set up to report transgressors.

 

10th January

  Pirate Party Keel Hauled in Russia...

Russia bans the use of the word 'pirate' from the Pirate Party
Link Here
Pirate Party A long-running battle between the Pirate Party of Russia and the Russian Government has concluded with disappointment for the Pirates. In the final legal appeal, the Ministry of Justice declared that since piracy, ie sea piracy, is a crime under Russian law, no political party may have that word as part of its name. As a result the Pirate Party can never become officially recognized unless it calls itself something else.

The Russian Government's political party naming directive seems to have the reasonable aim of stopping undesirables from showboating offensive campaigns, but its refusal to recognize that word that has multiple meanings resulted in the Pirate Party taking legal action in 2011. But by July a judge sided with the Government and the party was told to find a new name.

They refused, but in 2012 a change in the law convinced the party to reapply. Yet again a rejection was forthcoming, this time for various administrative issues alongside using the word pirate in a way that did not conform to the party's goals and objectives.

With one last throw of the dice, the party reapplied for registration in September 2013, but to no avail. The next steps for the Pirate Party are not yet clear

 

1st January

 Update: Mass Website Blocking...

Russia threatens to block all the websites on a hosting service if that service refuses to take down content that Russia does not like
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
roskomnadzor logo The Russian internet censor is threatening to block entire website hosts if they refuse to take down content that Russia does not like. US-based CloudFlare, a hosting company servicing at least 750,000 sites is on the blacklist.

Roskomnadzor is the body responsible for maintaining Russia's Internet blacklist. Sites can be placed on the blacklist for any number of reasons, from promoting drugs, crime and suicide, to failing to respond to rightholders complaints under the anti-piracy legislation passed earlier this year.

There are already tens of thousands of sites (including file-sharing portals) already on the list but if Roskomnadzor carries through on its latest threats the situation could quickly accelerate out of all proportion.

The problem, the censor says, is being caused by foreign hosts and service providers, mainly in the United States, who are refusing to disable access to a range of content that is illegal in Russia. Sites apparently hop around from location to location, but within the same provider, testing Roskomnadzor's patience. Spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky Said:

We have serious questions about a particular group of providers offering such sites hosting services. We ask them to block content, but they refuse to cooperate with us.

As a result Roskomnadzor says it is considering blocking a range of overseas hosts for failing to comply. They include Ukrainian host Vedekon.ua, Endurance International (US), Hostnoc (US), DataShack (US), Infinitie (US), and the torrent and file-sharing friendly OVH (France) and Voxility (Romania).

Rounding off the Russian list is CloudFlare , a US-based CDN company that assists many hundreds of thousands of sites worldwide. Back in March, CloudFlare experienced technical difficulties which resulted in 750,000 sites being taken offline. If the Russian's block CloudFlare, similar numbers of sites would be rendered locally inaccessible.