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East Europe Censorship News


2021

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Toxic proposals...

Russian proposals to treat all the depictions of gay relationships as restricted pornography


Link Here3rd December 2021
Full story: Gay in Russia...Russia bans gay parades and legislates against gay rights
A powerful Russian MP known for homophobic statements and projects has proposed a bill that would classify all depictions of LGBTQ+ relationships in the same banned or restricted categories as pornography.

Vitaly Milonov -- a member of Vladimir Putin's governing United Russia party, and deputy chairman of the Federal Assembly's Committee on Family Affairs, Women and Children -- said that people should have the right to ask the state's regulator to not allow the broadcast of films with LGBTQ+ content.

The announcement coincided with another Russian official's disclosure that he had prepared a catalogue of toxic content, using a system that labels content from completely banned to simply undesirable. Igor Ashmanov, a member of Russia's Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, revealed that he had developed a catalogue to mark so-called 'toxic content' on the internet.

The resource, Ashmanov said, would flag topics such as radical feminism [and] 'child-free' lifestyles, as well as the promotion of homosexuality and bestiality.

 

 

Blown out of all proportion...

Young people in Russia jailed for suggestive TikTok videos taken outside Moscow landmarks


Link Here10th November 2021
Young people in Russia have been jailed for posting sexually suggestive images of themselves online in front of well-known landmarks.

There have been reports of at least 4 cases in the past week where police have investigated, detained, or jailed young people for posting suggestive images of themselves in front of the Kremlin walls, St. Basil's Cathedral, St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersberg, and next to an eternal flame commemorating the history of the 2nd world war.

One young couple was jailed for 10 months for supposedly insulting believers' feelings by taking an image suggestive of oral sex outside the famous domes of Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral. Blogger Ruslan Bobiev and his girlfriend, influencer Anastasia Chistova staged a photoshoot that showed her on her knees in front of the cathedral wearing a police jacket. This was apparently the first time that such charges have led to actual jail time. After the hearing last week Bobiev has subsequently been ordered to be deported back to his native Tajikistan.

Cases that date back to August have seen women detained for flashing bare breasts and buttocks in front of monuments and landmarks, although many of whom protest their innocence stating that they were not responsible for the images being posted online. Last week a model was compelled to publicly apologise for a 3-year-old photograph of herself kissing another woman in front of the Eternal Flame monument saying that it was made without the goal to offend or defile.

 

 

Russia tries to block VPNs...

Internet censor targets NordVPN, ExpressVPN and IPVanish


Link Here14th September 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Earlier this month Russian internet censor Roscomnadzor said it would begin blocking VPN providers including NordVPN, ExpressVPN and IPVanish to prevent access to information the government wishes to censor. It now appears that multiple online services have been disrupted including BitTorrent and Twitch, with multiple parties pointing the finger towards Russia's blocking tools.

After making broad threats against a range of services in 2019, Russia made good on its warnings by blocking two providers, VyprVPN and OperaVPN. Then, earlier this month, Roscomnadzor said it would block several more including Nord VPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Hola! VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, and Speedify VPN.

In advance of blocking the providers listed above, Russia reached out to the banking sector to ensure that any blocking wouldn't hurt their activities. According to Roscomnadzor, it received responses from 64 industry organizations, 27 of which use the mentioned VPN connections to support 33 technological processes. More than 100 IP addresses were presented in order to exclude them from access restriction policies.

After the new blockades came into effect, multiple online services reported that they were suffering connectivity issues. According to a Kommersant report, these include the game World of Tanks, gaming streaming service Twitch, FlashScore (a service used to access football scores and results), and even BitTorrent transfers.

 

 

Blocking democracy...

Russian internet censors ban 6 VPNs in an attempt to silence the opposition in the run up to elections


Link Here4th September 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russia's internet censor Roskomnadzor has blocked six providers of virtual private networks (VPNs), which people can use to circumvent government website blocking.

The targeted VPN providers, include the widely used Nord VPN and Express VPN.

The move, announced on September 3, comes as Russian authorities tighten control of the Internet, blocking access to dozens of websites ahead of parliamentary elections this month.

The Russian censor justified the new restrictions by saying that VPNs allow access to blocked content created conditions for illegal activities, including those related to the distribution of drugs, child pornography, extremism, and suicidal tendencies.

 

 

Porn portal...

Russia proposes a portal through which all local access to internet porn is funnelled


Link Here23rd June 2021
Full story: Porn in Russia...Russia considers new pornography laws
Russian broadcasting censors, the General Radio Frequency Centre, which is a subsidiary of the internet censor Roskomnadzor has published new proposal which would see X-rated material shuttered away in an adults-only area on the internet.

RT.com explained that Russian lovers of adult content could soon be forced to ask their government for permission before they can access saucy snaps and spicy clips online, with a public services portal acting as the gateway to all legal pornography.

The report indicates that under the new proposal the government will grant itself the power to decide what content is illegal (e.g., featuring minors and depicting 'clearly offensive' themes such as rape) and what are permitted pictures and videos, which would be defined as naturalistic images or descriptions of the genitals of an adult and/or sexual intercourse or comparable sexual activity of a sexual nature involving adults with their consent.

The government proposal would also create a state-run age verification system implemented through a public services portal.

 

 

Ofcom's mentor...

Russia's internet censor fines Twitter for not locally storing details of Russian tweets


Link Here11th June 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russia's internet censor the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has fined Twitter four million rubles ($55,840) for non-compliance with Russian internet censorship laws. In particular Twitter did not localize the databases of its Russian users.

An official  specified that since 2015, the social network stored more than 6,000 prohibited pieces of content. After the application of measures to slow down the traffic of the social network, 490 pieces [of prohibited content] remain undeleted.

 

 

Throttled into submission...

Twitter censors enough posts to keep Russia's internet censor happy


Link Here17th May 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russia's internet censor Roskomnadzor has decided against completely blocking Twitter. The censor reports that after 2 months of having Twitter traffic throttled, Twitter has taken down 91% of posts notified by Roskomnadzor.

Roskomnadzor said that Twitter traffic will no longer be slowed down on fixed networks and associated Wi-Fi networks. The social network's traffic will still be throttled on mobile devices, however.

In addition, RKN said it has identified illegal materials posted on other platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. In the event that these platforms don't take the appropriate measures, similar sanctions may be applied to them, the censorship agency warned.

 

 

Offsite Article: Using copyright tools for censorship...


Link Here22nd April 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Instagram has found a way to wind up Russia by blocking posts featuring the Russian national anthem

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 

The art of repression...

Russian feminist and artist in court for artwork about feminism and gay rights


Link Here12th April 2021
Full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters
A Russian court is conducting a trial of a feminist activist and artist ludicrously charged with disseminating pornography after she shared drawings with a blob of pubic hair.

Yulia Tsvetkova is on charges related to her group on the popular social network VKontakte where colorful, stylized drawings of vaginas were posted. Tsvetkova is not allowed to give details of accusations against her.

Her drawings also depict gay themes that go against repressive Russians laws against what it considers as gay propaganda.

Tsvetkova ran a children's theater and was a vocal advocate of feminism and LGBT rights. She founded an online group, called Vagina Monologues, encouraging followers to fight stigma and taboo surrounding the female body, and posted other people's art in it.

Many public figures have spoken out in her support. Activists across Russia protested her prosecution, artists dedicated performances to her, and an online petition demanding that the charged be dropped gathered over 250,000 signatures.

 

 

Updated: Tweet that!...

Twitter has to decide whether to bow to Russian internet censors


Link Here7th April 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russian internet censors have issued three fines to Twitter totaling 8.9 million rubles (about $117,000) for the website's refusal to remove content that encouraged people to join unauthorized protests.

Twitter has 60 days to pay.

Russian authorities last month made content on Twitter slower to load, accusing the service of failing to take down posts related to drug use, pornography and other banned topics. On March 16, Russia's internet censor threatened to fully block the service within a month if it doesn't delete flagged content.

Update: TikTok too

7th April 2021. See article from meduza.io

A Russian court has fined the video sharing platform TikTok for failing to remove content that allegedly incited minors to participate in unsanctioned protests in Moscow, reports the Russian state news agency TASS.

The 2.5-million ruble ($32,375) fine was handed down by a magistrate on charges of violating the procedure for restricting access to information that is prohibited under Russian law.

In late January, representatives of the social networks TikTok, Facebook, Telegram, and VKontakte were summoned to Russia's federal censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, over content calling for participation in the demonstrations in support of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny that took place across Russia on January 23. Roskomnadzor initially reported that the social networks were actively removing this content. However, the censorship agency later announced that not all of the prohibited information had been blocked, and as such, the social networkers were facing fines ranging from 800,000 to four million rubles ($10,360 to $51,800).

 

 

Debeaked...

Russian speaks tough about Twitter refusing to play ball with local censorship requirements


Link Here19th March 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
This week Russian authorities warned that if Twitter doesn't fall into line of responding to Russian censorship demands then it could find itself blocked in the country in a month's time. Anticipating the possible fallout, including Russian users attempting to bypass the ban, a government minister has warned that blocking VPNs will be the next step.

For some time, local telecoms censor Roscomnadzor has criticized Twitter for not responding to its calls for prohibited content to be taken down. Roscomnadzor says that more than 3,100 takedown demands have gone unheeded so far.

In what appeared to be a retaliatory move, last week authorities attempted to slow down Twitter access in Russia, but this seems to have caused widespread disruption to many other websites, perhaps those that hang through waiting for linked Twitter content.

 

 

Don't mention the gay scene...

Russian film distributors cut gay scene from the Colin Firth movie Supernova


Link Here12th March 2021
Supernova is a 2020 UK gay drama by Harry Macqueen.
Starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth and Pippa Haywood. IMDb

Sam and Tusker partners of 20 years, who are traveling across England in their old RV visiting friends, family and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have.

A gay sex scene was cut from Supernova in Russian cinemas. The film was self-censored by film distributors there. At least one scene where the characters try to have sex after a dramatic dialogue has disappeared from the story.

World Pictures, the film's Russian distributor, cut the scene due to concerns that theaters would not screen Supernova and it may spark controversy due to excesses, according to critic Konstantin Kropotkin. These fears are rooted in Russia's gay propaganda law, which prohibits LGBTQ+ visibility in venues accessible to minors. This law has been used to penalize people and productions for a broad and often vague range of violations.

In addition to cutting a scene, World Pictures reportedly asked critics to remove any mention of gay from reviews. That intent backfired, the Times noted, as critics stressed how the censorship only further enhanced the film's love story and the heartfelt performances of its actors.

 

 

A new internet space race with the west...

Putin signs a raft of internet censorship measures into law


Link Here3rd January 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia 2020s...Russia and its repressive state control of media
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed several internet censorship laws into force, including one that introduces crippling fines for failing to remove banned material.

Although sexually explicit content is technically legal in Russia, existing laws banning the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects and other laws claiming to protect the health of Russian children are deployed by the state at its own discretion against sites hosting adult content.

The end-of-the-year legislative package signed into law by Putin, according to Reuters , also grants the Russian government new powers to restrict U.S. social media giants, label individuals 'foreign agents,' and to crack down on the disclosure of its security officers' personal data.

One of the measures was a response complaints about supposed bias and prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against Russian media. If social media companies block Russian websites then these social media websites will be blocked in Russia.

Another of the new laws introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year's Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove content banned in Russia.


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