The Russian government has demanded that Google censor a news story that accuses the nation of artificially reducing the reported number of deaths from COVID-19. The news data, however, comes from government-run institutions and official records.
nation's internet censor, the Roskomnadzor, is trying to remove a news item from the MBKh Media website for being considered disinformation. In fact the MBKh Media article was based on a piece published by the Financial Times, and that piece also is
under scrutiny by Roskomnadzor.
The news in question states that the Russian government is trying to reduce the actual COVID-19 death toll by attributing the deaths to other diseases. According to the report, the death toll should be at least 70%
higher, which means that the actual death toll would be close to 5,000. Moscow's Health Department confirmed that the reports are based on their data.
To block the news, the Roskomnadzor has turned to Google directly since MBKh Media has refused to
delete the report.
Maybe the Russian censors should consider that its reputation for censoring embarrassing but true information means that the act of censorship ends up reinforcing the credibility of what's being censored. Maybe then attempts to
censor say 5G theories may end up enforcing the conspiracy.
Back in March, ten major VPN providers including NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss were ordered by Russian authorities to begin blocking sites present in the country's national blacklist. Following almost total non-compliance, the country's
internet censor says that blocking nine of the services is now imminent.
Back in March, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor wrote to ten major VPN providers -- NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection,
HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN -- ordering them to connect to the database. All teh foreign companies refused to comply.
Only teh Russia based company,Kaspersky Secure Connection, connected to the registry, Roscomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov
informs Interfax .
Russian law says unequivocally if the company refuses to comply with the law -- it should be blocked. And it appears that Roscomnadzor is prepared to carry through with its threat. When questioned on the timeline for blocking,
Zharov said that the matter could be closed within a month.
Rocketman is a 2019 UK / USA musical music biography by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron Egerton and Richard Madden.
A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of
Elton John's breakthrough years.
During the Russian premiere of Rocketman on 30th May in Moscow, film goers noticed the 40s gay male sex scene between Elton John (Taron Egerton) and manager, John Reid (Richard Madden) was missing.
Film critic Anton Dolin saw the original version in Cannes and remarked the Russian edit cut out scenes of kissing, sex and oral sex between men. This included a photo of Elton John and his husband David Furnish in the closing credits. It also didn't
show scenes featuring drug and alcohol use. Around five minutes in total was missing from the Russian cut of Rocketman.
Maybe the 5 minutes may be an exaggeration. Not also that there are Russian laws banning the 'promotion' of gay sex so such
censorship may be a legal necessity rather than a morality decision by the film censor.
Update: Russian distributors blasted by Elton John
Elton John has hit out at Russian film distributors for editing out gay sex scenes from his biopic Rocketman, adding that it was a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in.
The local film distributor, Central Partnership company
told news agency TASS that it cut the scenes to comply with Russian legislation
The decision to remove the scenes was made solely by the distributor, Russia's Culture Ministry told TASS, adding that it issued no recommendations concerning the
Film critic Dolin said the grossest thing about the Russian edit was that the final caption had been removed from the closing credits. In the original, it says that Elton John found the love of his life and is raising children with the man
he loves (there is a dramatic moment in the film when his mother says to him 'you are doomed to be lonely'). In the Russian version it says the musician set up a foundation to fight AIDS and is still working with a long-time co-author.