Censorship
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Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a European country which practices Orthodox Christianity. Its area extends to Asia.

This page deals with the post-Soviet censorship period, from 1991 onwards. For censorship in the Soviet era, see Soviet Union.

General censorship[]

  • Profanity in the media is banned in Russia. The law officially stated 5 (originally 4) prohibited words to ban including all the derivatives, which resulted in a situation when media couldn't state the exact words banned by law while covering the story about the law. In case of Internet media, they couldn't even give a link to government site with the text of the law (since media watchdog Roscomnadzor explicitly stated that Internet site is responsible for all linked content regardless of its origin or who posted it, which in effect resulted in almost complete elimination of comments section on Russian news sites, mass switching to pre-moderation or restricting the comments to current news only, so it would be easier to moderate). This law, like many other new ones, goes against the Russian Constitution, but it's been enacted nonetheless.
  • As of June 2013, Russia has a federal law that bans the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" (read: LGBT) among minors. As of 2022, this was extended to all ages.
  • Anything which criticises the Russia's "Special Military Operations" in Ukraine is banned in Russia since March 2022. Initially in 2014, following the takeover of the Ukrainian region of Crimea by Russian-backed separatists, a large number of payment processors and online services (particularly those based in the U.S. and Europe) began to block or restrict their services to residents of Crimea (including gaming services, such as Steam, Battle.net, and the local League of Legends) due to sanctions legally barring them from doing business with the country. Then, in 2022, Vladimir Putin decided to launch an open invasion of Ukraine, which led to a large number of multinational services pulling their wares from Russia and those with physical presences in Russia either suspending or terminating said presences. Any mass media operating in Russia that is critical to the Russia's military efforts will be shut down and those who operate are either arrested for "misinformation" or forced to leave Russia.

Book censorship[]

  • New World Translation - In 2015, Russia banned import of the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
  • Quran - As with many holy books, the Quran has been subject to scrutiny and censorship at various points throughout history. Proposals and movements advocating outright bans of the Quran are uncommon in the West, occurring only among extremist right-wing circles. In 1985, Chandmal Chopra filed a writ Petition at the Kolkata High Court in India, trying to obtain an order banning the Quran. The most notable recent (and controversial) ban of a translated edition of the Quran happened in 2013 when a Russian court censored the text under the country's 'extremism' laws.
  • Mein Kampf is banned in the Russian Federation as extremist.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - this forgery which portrays a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world is banned in various libraries and many attempts to ban in various nations, such as in Russia.
  • Apocalypse Culture - this collection of articles, interviews, and documents that explore the various marginal aspects of culture by Adam Parfrey banned in Russia in July 2006 by court order for propaganda of drug use, owing to inclusion of David Woodard's essay "The Ketamine Necromance", after its first and only Russian publication by Ultra.Kultura (Ультра.Культура). All printed copies of that Russian edition were destroyed.
  • The Saga of Tanya the Evil - this manga was banned because of russophobic content and Nazi propaganda. This is not surprising, since the main character of the anime bears many similarities to Hitler, and Nazism is an extremely sensitive topic in Russia.

Internet censorship[]

  • The current Russian government blacklists Internet resources advocating drugs, suicide, and terrorism, ostensibly to protect the children. It is quite often that the notice is served to LiveJournal about a repost, while the original site goes by scot-free. What qualifies as advocating suicide? Dumb Ways to Die, which is a PSA about railway safety.
  • In 2016, LinkedIn was banned in Russia for breaching a new data retention law.
  • Archive site archive.today is ''partially'' banned in Russia. Russian users can still visit the site directly, but only through HTTP access; HTTP''S'' ('''H'''yper'''t'''ext '''T'''ransfer '''P'''rotocol '''S'''ecure) connections are blocked, which means that their connections to the site are not private and secure, and thus, the Russian government can potentially track them.
  • Following the secession of the Crimean Republic from Ukraine into Russia, a large number of payment processors and online services (particularly those based in the U.S. and Europe) began to block or restrict their services to residents of Crimea (including gaming services, such as Steam, Battle.net, and the local League of Legends) due to sanctions legally barring them from doing business with the country.
  • Pornhub was blocked from September 2016 to April 2017. While the block was lifted, Russian Users are now required to verify their Age using their ID or Mobile Phone Number.

Movie censorship[]

General[]

Compared with the Soviet film guidelines, films produced in modern Russia do not have any radar. That is, content such as Mafiya action, lewd talk shows, sex, product placement of tobacco and vodka, to name a few. However, the exception is Nazi propaganda, which is still forbidden after the downfall of the USSR.

In recent censorship developments, the Russian government prohibited the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors. The vague definition, especially revolving the term "among minors" has been largely used to censor media (including real-life gathering such as Gay Pride parades) portraying same-sex relation as equivalent to opposite-sex ones, with the Russian government justifying censorship assuming that they homosexuals are "attracted to children of their same sex", so the government thinks about "protecting children".

Ratings[]

Instances of movie censorship[]

  • Borat - this movie was banned on the grounds of being "offensive". The Russian Ministry of Culture recommended that the film would not be shown in theaters, fearing that the country's substantial Central Asian minority would not understand that the film is really meant to lampoon American ignorance (partly because they might not believe that anyone can be that ignorant of their culture).
  • The Interview - banned to avoid "political provocations" from North Korea.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - The Communist Party of the Russian Federation tried to get this film banned for portraying the Soviet Union in a bad light. The film was released in spite of their objections.
  • Charlie Wilson's War - while this film is not actually banned, Universal Pictures International Russia decided not to release it, as they was thought that a film with a strong anti-Soviet tone would have minimal chance to make a profit in Russia. Among the Russians who have seen it, the response is overwhelmingly negative.
  • Interestingly enough, Beauty and the Beast was almost banned due to a gay character in a family film (According to the producers, LeFou is gay in the live-action adaptation of Disney's Renaissance classic). The government has since approved of the screening of the film with a 16+ rating.
  • Child 44 - this film was banned since 15 April 2015, when the Russian film distributor Central Partnership announced that the film would be withdrawn from cinemas in Russia, although some media stated that screening of the film was blocked by the Russian Ministry of Culture. The decision was made after the press screening the day before. The Ministry of Culture and the Central Partnership issued a joint press release stating that the screening of the film before the 70th anniversary of the Victory Day was unacceptable and claimed that it received several questions on the film's contents, primarily concerning "distortion of historical facts, peculiar treatment of events before, during and after the Great Patriotic War and images and characters of Soviet people of that era". Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky welcomed the decision, but stressed that it was made solely by the Central Partnership. However, in his personal statement Medinsky complained that the film depicts Russians as "physically and morally base sub-humans", comparing the depiction of Soviet Union in the film with J. R. R. Tolkien's Mordor, and wished that such films should be screened neither before the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, nor any other time. However, he also stated that the film would be available in Russia on DVD and online. As a result of the decision the film was also withdrawn from cinemas in Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while release of the film in Georgia has been postponed until October.
  • The Death of Stalin - this film had its certification revoked due to accusations of extremism, effectively banning the film in Russia. Before that, movies "mocking" Soviet history and World War II, such as the aforementioned Child 44, usually were denied certification at all, while this one had received certification (which meant the film was watched by the Ministry of Culture), had a release date and all necessary papers on hands until the movie was screened in the State Duma (the Russian Parliament) days before the official premiere. Many deputies threw a public tantrum afterwards, immediately resulting in controversy, backlash and ended with a certificate revocation. One small cinema dared to show it anyway (since the certificate withdrawal is almost unprecedented) and ended up with a huge fine and the threat of closure.
  • Jojo Rabbit - this film was banned for unknown reasons. It is likely for its depiction of Hitler.
  • Onward - this Pixar film had its Russian dub altered the character's dialogue to remove any mention of homosexuality, due to a Russian law which prohibits any "pro-gay propaganda" in children's media.
  • Holy Spider - this Iranian crime thriller film based on the story of Saeed Hanaei, a serial killer who targeted street prostitutes, 16 victims between 2000 and 2001 in Mashhad, was initially released in Russian theatres for a few days, to be soon banned for unknown reasons. According to the Russian Ministry of Culture, the film "contained information whose whose dissemination is prohibited by the Russian Federation laws". However, director Ali Abbasi believes that the ban was related to Iran's military support for Russia during the Russo-Ukrainian war.
  • Directly Kakha. Another Movie (Neposredstvenno Kakha Drugoy Fil'm) - This film was banned in 2003, three months after the premiere due to rape excuse and victim blaiming.
  • Barbie - this film was banned due to "not corresponding to traditional values".
  • Oppenheimer - this film was also banned for "not corresponding to traditional values".
  • Fairytale - this experimental adult animated fantasy film about conversations in purgatory between Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill was banned in Russia in 2022 for no specific reason given, but the subparagraph "zh" of the rules on issuance of released certificates was cited "In other cases determined by federal laws". The director Aleksandr Sokurov emphasized that censorship is prohibited in Russia and no one had the right to restrict the Russian audience's access to works of art.

Television censorship[]

  • Dumb Ways to Die - this PSA was banned in Russia because showing cute cartoon characters killing themselves did not set the best example for kids. In February 2013, Artemy Lebedev's blog was censored by Roskomnadzor for including this video. Later that day, the YouTube video was also censored, with the "This content is not available in your country due to a legal complaint from the government" message. The official takedown notice sent to Livejournal.com was quoted, in part, by Lebedev in his blog.

    "The song's lyrics contains a description of different ways of committing suicide, such as: using drugs beyond their expiration date, standing on an edge of a platform, running across the rails, eating superglue and other. The animated personages demonstrate dangerous ways of suicide in attractive for children and teenagers comic format. The lines such as "Use a clothes dryer as a hiding place" and "I wonder what’s this red button do?" contain an incitement to commit those acts."

    However, the video was still included into the ABC Show and was shown in more than 50 cities across Russia.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA - this anime has been banned for being "child pornography", most likely due to having elementary school students in borderline-Lolicon style fanservice (albeit not to the extent to what they're implying even if there's still extremely uncomfortable bits to get through). In fact, Russia has a strong stance against works they deem Lolicon.
  • Tokyo Ghoul - this anime was banned due to the cannibalism scenes. Before the banning of anime, the Tokyo Ghoul fandom in Russia was infamous for its toxicity, which gave rise to the Dead Inside subculture. Several Tokyo Ghoul fans are edgy teenagers known on the Russian Internet for romanticising maniacs and suicide, for which they are often ridiculed in memes.
  • Russian channel 2x2 got an official warning (two warnings are enough to lose a broadcasting license) from Roscomnadzor after airing Happy Tree Friends and series of shorts called The Adventures of Big Jeff featuring an animated nudist. HTF was aired on other channel (MTV) before without any repercussions. The series weren't banned per se, but no one would touch them with a ten foot pole as a result.
  • Regular Show - the episode "The Real Thomas" has been banned due to its premise about Thomas being a Russian spy was considered offensive, given Russia's then-current annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support (overt or covert) for insurgencies in the country's East. Russian government-owned news outlet RT straight-up called the episode "American propaganda", and indeed, the episode is often seen as South Park-style commentary on current events.
  • Steven Universe and The Loud House - both shows had several episodes that have been banned in Russia due to the "propaganda" law that prohibits promoting LGBT rights or messages. Steven Universe episodes "The Answer", "Hit the Diamond", "Mr. Greg", and "Last One Out of Beach City" were all never broadcast in Russia (and by proxy Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav countries - themselves strongholds of pro-Russian opinion and support for the gay propaganda law - due to a shared broadcast feed) due to their LGBT-friendly themes regarding Ruby and Sapphire's relationship (resulting in a Plot Hole later on with regards to the five Rubies) and Pearl's relationship with Rose. Many episodes of The Loud House featuring Clyde's two gay fathers were also never broadcast, leaving most of the 2nd season unaired due to their increased presence, while the same went for the episodes featuring Luna Loud's girlfriend Sam. During a panel on a fan convention, Russian dub director Dmitry Filimonov has said that several episodes regarding Ruby and Sapphire's wedding were dubbed, but will not be aired.
  • The Simpsons - 2x2 had announced an intention to withdraw the season 28 episode "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" within days of its premiere in USA, where Homer plays a Pokémon GO parody during a church sermon, due to the arrest and suspended conviction of YouTuber Ruslan Sokolovsky for filming himself doing just that (Russia has a federal blasphemy law passed after the Pussy Riot incident). In fact, Russia threatened to ban anything related with Pokémon Go after the event, although the game has not yet been banned. They ended up broadcasting it anyway years later with the scene cut.
  • South Park - Paramount Comedy at least once dropped an episode from the broadcast ("A Scause for Applause", the one with Jesus in Free Pussy Riot t-shirt). One of the previous broadcasters of South Park (MTV) also omitted "Bloody Mary" (for religious overtones) and "Passion of the Jew" (for Nazi overtones).

Video game censorship[]

Until 2012, Russia did not have an age rating system for games.

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - The controversial "No Russian" level was removed from the Russian release.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - While not banned, but Sony Interactive Entertainment refused to sell the game digitally on PlayStation 4.[110] The game also never released in Russia on discs.
  • For Freedom Ichkeriya: BAMUT - banned because it "justifies the implementation of extremist activities: incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, intended to form a hostile attitude towards soldiers of the Russian army as "occupants", "aggressors", and towards Russians by nationality as invaders. Has signs of inciting ethnic hatred: "Chechens are contrasted with Russians".
  • Tell Me Why - while not banned, Xbox Game Studios decided to not release it in Russia due to one of the main protagonists of the game being transgender, which would likely be offensive to local audiences. The game was also not released in several other countries for the same reason, including Turkey, Singapore and China.

External links[]

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