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Examining Russia's Censorship Record

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Pussy Riot (Wikipedia)

Russia wants to protect children. That is their excuse for a law that gives them the power to selectively censor Internet content. Information about homosexuality or suicide, which Russia refers to as propaganda, are among the banned subjects deemed harmful to children. Earlier this year a Russian prosecutor asked a court to block the website Pobedish.ru (“you win”), part of the suicide prevention resource group Perezhit.ru, which incorporates input from psychologists, psychiatrists, forensic experts and the clergy. Because that makes sense.

Suicide is part of a long list of terms, images, and specific pages blocked by Russia this fall, as assembled by the Index On Censorship organization.

Under the subheading “Extremism” the Index lists an anti-Putin article and websites that give access to Hitler's Mein Kampf, which is on the Federal List of Extremist Materials.

For example, prosecutors found that at an Omsk school for the visually impaired, the Internet filters on school computers were not blocking banned websites and students had access to Hitler's Mein Kampf and to pornographic images, as well as violence and drug propaganda.

An image of Pussy Riot by artist Artyom Loskutov has also been banned from the Internet. In 2012, after covering his town with the icon-like image, the artist was fined for “offending religious sentiments.”

Other websites have recently released analyses of censorship on Sina Weibo, companies' self-censorship in China, and Iran's methods of censorship of Wikipedia.

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