East Europe Censorship News

 2017

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  A darker shade of censorship...

Russian translators censor a gay subplot from novel without the author's permission citing Russian censorship laws about 'gay propaganda'


Link Here 20th August 2017
A Darker Shade of Magic A number of authors have spoken out following the decision of a Russian publishing house to censor a gay storyline in a fantasy novel. The Russian publisher has admitted censoring a gay storyline in a popular fantasy novel series without permission from the US-based author.

Victoria Schwab is the author of the Shades of Magic series, which features a number of LGBT characters, including a bisexual prince who has a same-sex romance.

The bestselling books were translated into Russian as part of a deal with Russia-based publisher Rosmen and earlier this week Schwab said she was shocked to find out that a queer plot twist had been removed from the copy.

Schwab, who accused the publishing house of breaking contract, has now said she is seeking to terminate the deal. It would have been better not to publish the book at al

Publisher Rosmen has issued a statement admitting that it removed parts of the storyline from the novel. It said:

We only did this so that we wouldn't violate the ban on gay propaganda for minors. But we kept the romantic plotline as a whole.

 

 Update: Russia's relationship czar...

Government film censors clear the movie Matilda for release disappointing the religious leaders calling for a ban


Link Here 19th August 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
Poster Matilda 2017 Aleksey Uchitel Matilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram. IMDb

In the twilight of Imperial Russia, prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya becomes the mistress of three Grand Dukes.

A historical film about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina has been cleared for release by film censors at the Russian Culture Ministry. Vyasheslav Telnov, the head of the ministry's film department, said it checked Matilda and found it in full compliance with legal norms.

Matilda, which describes Nicholas II's relationship with Matilda Kshesinskaya has drawn virulent criticism from some Orthodox christians and hard-line nationalists, who see it as blasphemy against the emperor, glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Russian lawmaker Natalya Poklonskaya spearheaded the campaign for banning the film. She even asked the Prosecutor General's office to carry out an inquiry into Matilda, which is set to be released on the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

Matilda opponents have gathered signatures against the film, and earlier this month several hundred people gathered to pray outside a Moscow church for the movie to be banned. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya has supported the calls for a ban, as have authorities in the neighboring province of Dagestan.

 

 Update: Your friend Vladimir is currently watching 'Bareback Horseplay' on Pornhub...

Russian Pornhub implements age verification for websites by mandatorily logging in to social media


Link Here 23rd July 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
pornhub logoThe wolrd's most popular porn website, Pornhub has introduced stringent age verification checks at the bequest of the Russian government.

PornHub is now asking Russian viewers to verify their age by logging in with their social media account on VKontakte, Russia's answer to Facebook.

This is a stricter requirement than logging in via Facebook or Google as VKontakte itself requires connection to a mobile phone that has been mandatorily registered against a passport.

Verification through a social media account may be daunting to those concerned that the same company which has the contacts of their close family and friends is also aware of their porn watching habits. Though PornHub has promised a third party would not get more users' information than before, the consensus on its VKontakte page showed some of its biggest fans are precisely concerned that may happen.

The system was considered the most effective and simple way to ensure compliance with Russian laws about the access to the content for adults. Dmitry Kolodin, a representative of PornHub in Russia told news site Meduza, confirming the new measure came into effect Thursday.

 

 Offsite Article: How the Russian Internet Censor Banned Itself...


Link Here 15th June 2017
roskomnadzor logo Russian internet users fight back against government censorship

See article from bloomberg.com

 

  Fantasy Games...

Uzbekistan bans 34 computer games for propagating violence and disturbing 'inter-religious harmony'


Link Here 30th May 2017
UzbekistanUzbekistan has banned a long list of computer games claimed to be distorting values and threatening stability. The list includes global hits like Grand Theft Auto and innocuous classics like The Sims.

The ban makes it illegal to import and distribute the games. Authorities claims the games could be used to propagate violence, pornography, threaten security and social and political stability.There is also concern they might disturb civil peace and inter-ethnic and inter-religious 'harmony'. Another reason given is the potential distribution of false information about Uzbekistan and the distortion of its historic, cultural and spiritual values.

One would have thought that religion might be a more provable and obvious candidate for propagating violence, threatening security, or causing social and political instability.

The list of 34 games ranges from ego-shooters to horror or erotic games and has been approved by a government commission. It lists Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Doom, and The Sims.

 

 Update: Blocking unblocking...

Russian government gets nasty with internet censorship circumvention services


Link Here 21st April 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia flagThe Russian government is preparing to scale-up its war on people accessing blocked webssites by hitting services that provide workarounds. A new bill developed by the government requires VPNs and other anonymizing services to stop providing access to blocked domains. If they do not, they themselves will also be blocked. Search engines also face sanctions for linking to banned sites.

When it comes to blocking websites, Russia is quickly emerging as a world leader. Tens of thousands  of sites are now blocked in the country on copyright infringement and a wide range of other censorship grounds.

Of course, Russian citizens are not always prepared to be constrained by their government, so large numbers of people regularly find ways to circumvent ISP blockades. The tools and methods deployed are largely the same as those used in the West, including VPNs, proxies, mirror sites and dedicated services such as Tor.

To counter this defiance, the Russian government has been considering legislation to tackle sites, tools and services that provide Internet users with ways to circumvent blockades. According to local news outlet Vedomosti , that has now resulted in a tough new bill.

Russia's plan is to issue a nationwide ban on systems and software that allow Internet users to bypass website blockades previously approved by telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor. This means that if a VPN, proxy or similar tool unblocks torrent site RuTracker, for example, it will be breaking the law. As a result, it too will find itself on Russia's banned site list.

The publication says it has confirmed the bill's existence with a federal official and several Internet service provider sources.

As previously reported , Russia also has search engines in its sights. It wants to prevent links to banned sites appearing in search results, claiming that these encourage people to access banned material. The new bill reportedly lays out a new framework which will force search engines to remove such links. Failing to do so could result in fines of up to $12,400 per breach, clearly a significant issue for companies such as Google and local search giant Yandex.

 

 Updated: Beastly homophobic film censors...

Beauty and the Beast banned in Kuwait, effectively banned in Russia, and recently unbanned in Malaysai


Link Here 24th March 2017
Poster Beauty and the Beast 2017 Bill Condon Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 USA family musical romance by Bill Condon.
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Luke Evans. IMDb

Disney's animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.

Malaysian censors ordered cuts to the cinema release of Beauty and the Beast, removing what its creators say is a gay moment. Even after the cuts, the censors imposed a P13 rating (a 13A in UK terms). But according to a media report, Walt Disney decided anyway to shelve the film's Thursday release in the country.

Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told The Star Online the film has been approved with a P13 parental guidance classification, with a minor cut.

Since 2010 Malaysia's film censorship rules allow the depiction of gay characters, but only if those characters show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.

Meanwhile the Russian government has opted to give the film a rather unviable 16+ rating, a restrictive rating preventing children below that age from seeing the film.

Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the Culture Ministry's cinema department, told Russian entertainment site KinoPoisk.ru:

We will issue the film distribution license without any problems. The minimum age is 16+.

A 2013 Russian law bans promotion of homosexuality among minors. The law describes homosexuality as non-traditional sexual relations.

Update: Unbanned after Malaysia loses face

22nd March 2017 See  article from rappler.com

Malaysia flagDisney's movie Beauty and the Beast has won an appeal against censorship and will now be released uncut with a PG 13 rating.

Malaysian authorities had initially demanded cuts but Disney refused to oblige the censors, choosing to instead to appeal the decision

Disney have now won that appeal, a decision perhaps linked to some members of parliament questioning the need to censor the film, arguing that the debacle was giving Malaysia bad publicity.

Update: Banned in Kuwait

24th March 2017 See  article from al.com

UAE flagBeauty and the Beast opened in Kuwait last week with a PG-13 rating, but by this week, the nation's government-owned cinema company, which runs 11 out of the 13 theaters in the Persian Gulf country, announced that all screenings had been canceled and offered a full refund to anyone who had purchased a ticket.

One board member of the National Cinema Co. told the Associated Press:

We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information's censorship department.

At issue, apparently, is a scene in which a supporting character, LeFou, is depicted as having a romantic fascination for Gaston and is shown dancing with another man in a ballroom scene said to be three seconds long.

 

  Ugly attitudes...

A Russian MP and a US theatre owner take action against a gay subplot in the remake of Beauty and the Beast


Link Here 6th March 2017
beauty and the beast 2017Russian officials are coming under pressure to check if Disney's new film Beauty and the Beast breaches the country's discriminatory law against gay propaganda .

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said action would be taken after the checks while an MP described the film as shameless propaganda of sin .

The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast features Disney's first ever gay character and love scene. Director Bill Condon has spoken of an exclusively gay moment in Beauty and the Beast.  It involves LeFou, who is a sidekick of the film's main antagonist Gaston. LeFou, played by US actor Josh Gad, tries to come to terms with feelings for Gaston that swing between lust and admiration, as a side-plot to the main story.

In another groundbreaking moment, the film is to feature the first interracial kiss in a Disney live-action film.

Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, urged the culture minister to hold a screening of the film before it was released to see if it complied with the law and to take measures to totally ban it if he found elements of propaganda of homosexuality . Vitaly Milonov is one of the main supporter of the Russian law of 2013

But don't think that Russia is singularly homophobic country who is whingeing at the film. A cinema in the USA is also refusing to show the films for homophobic reasons. The owners of the Henagar Drive-In in Alabama explained:

It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out, When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine.

For those that do not know 'Beauty and the Beast' is 'premiering' their first homosexual character 206 If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.

I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That's fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.

 

  Question More...

NatWest bank reverses its decision to censor the Russian propaganda channel, RT


Link Here 31st January 2017
russia today international logoNatWest has reversed its decision to close the UK bank accounts of the Kremlin-backed news channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today.

The bank wrote to the company that provides RT services in the UK last October, saying it would no longer provide banking services following a review and the decision was final.

However, in a statement this week, NatWest said it had reached a resolution with RT. Natwest is part of the RBS Group which is largely owned by the British state.

NatWest has not said why it decided to close the accounts, but it is understood that the bank's compliance department has closed down the accounts of Russian customers in the past without explanation.

 

 Update: Suicide Watch...

Russia's internet censors casts its nets wide when banning websites referencing suicide


Link Here 9th January 2017  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
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