On Saturday, five months late, Russia's most controversial ballet in years opened at the Bolshoi.
Nureyev , which traces the life and Aids-related death of Soviet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev, had been pulled just two days before its scheduled premiere in July. Insiders suggested the ballet's frank treatment of homosexuality
-- and a reported intervention by the culture ministry -- lay behind the dramatic decision to cancel. The parallel investigation and August arrest of the ballet's director, Kirill Serebrennikov, added to those suspicions. Right up until the last
moment, there were doubts that the premiere would ever happen.
The Cannes-winning director remains under house arrest, awaiting trial. He is unable to work, talk to the press or see his elderly, infirm parents. He was not allowed to play any direct role in the final preparations of the ballet. State
investigators accuse him of embezzlement but it seems more likely that the arrest is more to do with Russian hatred of gay culture.
The ballet has also suffered a notable cut from the version originally planned. The original version of the production, seen in leaked rehearsal videos, included the projection of a famous picture from Avedon's photoshoot of Nureyev in
full-frontal mod. Insiders reported that it was this detail that had proven to be the most controversial for authorities. By Saturday, the 10-second scene had been cut, rather undermining the theatre's narrative that politics had not played a
role in the original cancellation.
The Russian government is currently discussing plans to build its own independent internet infrastructure that will be used by BRICS member states 204 Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The Russian Security Council has today formally asked the country's government to start the building of a global DNS system that Russia and fellow BRICS member states could use to take control of the internet as used within the BRICS countries.
Russia and fellow BRICS nations would have the option to flip a switch and move Internet traffic from today's main DNS system to their own private system. The states will then have absolute and direct control of sites to be blocked. Furthermore,
the alternative DNS system also allows oppressive regimes to deanonymize Tor traffic and hunt for dissidents, via an attack called DefecTor.
Russia, China, and many other countries have criticized the US for hoarding control over the domain naming system (DNS), a position they claim has allowed the US to intercept and tap global Internet traffic. Last year, the US handed over control
over the DNS system to ICANN , an independent organization. While Russia and China welcomed the move, they actually wanted the DNS system to be controlled by the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union. This is because the two
countries have more power in UN matters than control over an NGO, like ICANN.
The US establishment clearly cannot accept that US voters selected Donald Trump because of their own failures to look after sizable chunks of the American people. Instead they prefer to believe US minds were somehow corrupted by mysterious
foreign agents offering propaganda and fake news.
So now the US is coming down heavy on the Russian propaganda news channel RT. RT said this week that it had been ordered by the US Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent by Monday or have its bank accounts frozen. This 1938
reporting law is something from the age when the Nazis were on the ascent, and that foreign agents were indeed enemies of the state with a war looming.
In response to this treatment, Russia's parliament has now begun drafting tit-for-tat measures that would place severe restrictions on some US media outlets operating in the country, in a move that looks likely to plunge US-Russia relations to a
Russian president Vladimir Putin had previously warned that Russia would take retaliatory steps if RT, formerly known as Russia Today, was targeted by US authorities.
The Russian parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said MPs had been tasked with drafting amendments to Russia's own law on foreign agents to include biased media organisations that oppose Russia's political system. He said the amendments
could be approved in their third and final reading as earlier as next Friday.
Senator Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the upper house of parliament's media policy committee, said the measures would initially target CNN, the Voice of America, and Radio Liberty. However, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman,
did not rule out that the updated law could also result in the expulsion of Moscow-based correspondents from US newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post.
The latest measure to deny Russian people the freedom of expression online will take effect on 1st November. New laws will require VPNs to comply with the Russian State's online censorship programme and block all websites that are on the
government censor's block list.
The Russian State Duma passed the new piece of legislation earlier this year and it was quickly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
Most of the major international VPN providers are not expected to comply with the law. Some, including Private Internet Access (PIA) , has already confirmed this. PIA also removed all their servers from Russia last year after a number were seized
without prior warning. It remains to be seen how the Russian state will try and sanction them as a result, but their own websites can certainly be expected to be added to the blacklist.
Online rights activists have also been quick to condemn the new law. Eva Galperin, the Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said she believed the law would only be applied selectively. It is expected that
the Russian regime will use the new powers to target opposition activists ahead of next year's Presidential Elections. Overseas companies and businesspeople based in Russia which use VPNs are unlikely to see their service affected.
Update: Small Russian ISPs won't be able to afford new state blocking requirements
A draft order of Roskomnadzor, Russia's Federal internet censor, requires the most expensive and degrading method of blocking - a deep packet analysis of all traffic passing (DPI, deep packet inspection). Because of its high cost, the
requirements of Roskomnadzor will lead to the sale of small and medium providers business to large one, experts say.
The law on the prohibition of VPNs, enacted in Russia, has not yet affected access to sites that are prohibited. As before, you can still access them via anonymizers, VPN and TOR.
Analysts of Roskomsvoboda - a public organization, which activities are aimed at counteracting censorship on the Internet, explain that users will not see any effects before December anyway, as the process of the law allows 36 days for VPN
providers to respond to blocking requests before taking any action against them.
Some well-known VPN-services have already reacted to the next round of censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet. Representatives of ExpressVPN expressed surprise at this issue, asking how exactly Russia intends to implement this new
regulation in practice?
ExpressVPN will certainly never agree with any standards that would jeopardize the ability of our product to protect the digital rights of users, remarks the company.
Tunnelbear imparted that the service belongs to a Canadian company, hence operates according to the local laws, which do not limit them in any way.
VPN-service TorGuard also does not intend to cooperate with Roskomnadzor, directly declaring that it will refuse to block sites if they are approached with such requests.
VPN users in Russia were braced for big problems last November when a new law came into force requiring all anonymiser services to comply with state censorship laws or be blocked . The expectation was that this would lead to most international
VPNs being quickly blocked in Russia.
However, to date, that hasn't been the case and all of the most popular international VPNs in Russia remain available.
According to the Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) this is because Russia has not yet requested any VPN service to block the sites listed on states registered of banned
vpncompare.co.uk speculates that maybe the reasons for the delayed blocking of VPNs is either a lack of expensive deep packet inspection routers able to block VPNs or else concerns that blocking VPNs may harm commercial and corporate
interests. But this may only be a reprieve whist infrastructure upgrades are implemented or legal tweaks to distingusih between corporate VPS and personal VPNs.
Moscow has warning the US that it may restrict US media in Russia. Russian officials have accused Washington of putting unwarranted pressure on the U.S. operations of Russia Today. A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said Russia was within its
rights to restrict operations of U.S. media outlets in the country
A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the full weight of the U.S. authorities was being brought to bear against RT's operations in the United States, and that Moscow had the right to respond.
She did not identify any specific U.S. media outlets that would be targeted. She said it made no difference from the Russian government's point of view if those outlets were backed by the U.S. state, or privately-funded. However late last
month, Russia's state TV censor accused U.S. TV channel CNN International of violating its license to broadcast in Russia and said it had summoned the broadcaster's representatives in connection with the matter.
The Russian Orthodox Church has erected 300 billboards in Moscow displaying words about love exchanged between the last tsar and his wife. The displays are the latest actions in a campaign trying to get the Russian film, Matilda banned.
The film explores the love affair between Nicholas II and a ballerina. It has wound up the christians because they consider the emperor to be a saint. MP Natalya Poklonskaya is leading the campaign and explains:
You can't touch saints and you can't show them having sex
Violent ctivists have burnt cars outside the offices of the production company and threatened to disrupt screenings. The biggest cinema chain will not show the film to protect cinemagoers when it opens later this month.
Russia will block access to Facebook next year if the websites refuses to comply with a law requiring websites to store personal data of Russian citizens on Russian servers so as to facilitate state snooping. Russia's internet censor,
Roskomnadzor, told reporters that either Facebook abides by the law or the social network will cease to work on Russian territory.
Roskomnadzor blocked Russian access to LinkedIn last November as a result of the social media company being found guilty of violating the same data storage law. Since then, foreign internet companies have been under pressure to comply or risk
losing their service in the country. Twitter has told Roskomnadzor that it aims to localise the personal data of its users by mid-2018. Companies including Google and Alibaba have already complied .
Meanwhile on the other side of the iron curtain, Facebook said it will turn over to the United States Congress Russian-linked ads that may have been intended to sway the 2016 US election. The social network revealed that it identified around 500
fake accounts with ties to Russia that purchased $100,000 worth of ads during the campaign, as well as $50,000 ad purchases from Russian accounts.
We support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
The latest adaptation of Stephen King's It has set box-office records around the world, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated horror of all time.
But Burger King's Russian division has filled an official government complaint to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) demanding the film be banned from cinemas. The reason?. The villainous clown Pennywise apparently looks like Ronald McDonald
from rival chain McDonald's.
Matilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram.
In the twilight of Imperial Russia, prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya becomes the mistress of three Grand Dukes.
Any attempts to exert pressure on cinemas over the screenings of Matilda , a movie describing the love story of last Russian emperor Nicholas II and a ballet dancer, are censorship and lawlessness, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir
Medinsky said on Wednesday. He told TASS:
Any intentions of 'initiators' on the ground to ban the screenings, any attempts of pressure against private or municipal cinemas are pure lawlessness and censorship, which is directly against the Russian Constitution.
The Culture Ministry allows the screenings at cinemas in line with legal procedures, Medinsky explained. The law strictly describes the grounds for any refusal. There are none of them in case with Matilda. We are guided by the law, not private
The minister called on Russian law enforcement agencies to ensure the rule of law in the situation with Matilda and curb any pressure on the state and cinema business from activists with their socially dangerous methods of imposing their views.
Violence by orthodox christians has started in anticipation of the film's release on 26th October. A number of activists including MP Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea's former prosecutor, have launched a campaign against the film calling for its
release to be cancelled and claiming that it will insult the feelings of Orthodox believers. On Monday night, two cars were set ablaze outside the office of Uchitel's lawyer, Konstantin Dobrynin, in downtown Moscow. The attorney posted photos of
the charred automobiles and notes left at the scene saying Burn for Matilda on his Facebook page.
A group calling itself Christian State, Holy Russia sent nearly a thousand letters with threats to movie theater owners across Russia, urging them to drop the screening of Matilda.
About 1,000 Russians demonstrated in Moscow on 26th August against repressive government controls on Internet use. They shouted slogans such as Russia will be free and Russia without censorship ,.
In July, Russia's parliament voted to outlaw web tools that let Internet users sidestep official bans of certain websites. It allows telecommunications censor Roskomnadzor to compile a list of so-called anonymiser services and prohibit any
that fail to respect the bans, while also requiring users of online messaging services to identify themselves with a telephone number.
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.
Matilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram.
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
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
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.
The 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.
Uzbekistan 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 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.
Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 USA family musical romance by Bill Condon.
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Luke Evans.
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.
Beauty 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.
Russian 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.