Russia is full of problems. Good thing there’s one singular political entity responsible for most of the country’s bans on things — Rospotrebnadzor aka Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being. So if you bored by the censorship, imprisonment and murders of Kremlin policy critics, here’s a nifty list of things Russia has recently banned for you to LOL at from a safe distance.
Fucked up, but true. Not only has Putin banned cursing in films, the arts, television broadcasts and public performances — even Russia’s most treasured and dead authors will likely need “obscenity warning” on their book covers. It gets crazier. Even cursing in comments online is illegal. Better inform the Kremlin-funded pro-Putin internet troll training centers. How will they even enforce something as wide-sweeping and vague as a ban on cursing on the internet? “Swear bots.” Oh, good.
Rospotrebnadzor watchdogs have banned importing dairy products manufactured by over a dozen of Ukraine’s companies “over violations of Russian consumer rights protection” this month. They have graded it “risky” due to alleged contamination. We’re sure this added financial pressure has nothing to do with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is totally legit.
“HOUSE OF CARDS”
Two episode of David Fincher’s House Of Cards Netflix drama were going to be filmed in the UN chambers, but due to a most enthusiastic opposition from Russian representatives, this isn’t going to happen.
Last year, Putin already banned smoking in public areas and workplaces. On June 1st, more bans went into effect, making displaying cigarettes in stores. Smoking in cafes, restaurants, hotels and night clubs — including hookah in designated hookah bars.
BONUS: “DISTORTION OF THE SOVIET UNION’S ROLE IN WORLD WAR II”
In may, Putin signed a law that makes Holocaust denial a criminal offense, which isn’t uncommon worldwide. The second portion of the bill criminalizes “wittingly spreading false information about the activity of the USSR during the years of World War Two,” a vague but severe sounding infraction, which the Jewish Daily Forward journal credits to the country’s conservative climate which makes it “increasingly risky for Russians to dispute an official line that glorifies the wartime achievements of the Soviet leadership and plays down its errors.” Either crime is punishable by five years in jail.
BACON (FROM EUROPE)
In January, Russia embargoed the import of pork from Europe due to outbreaks of swine flu in Lithuania and Poland. EU’s trade commissioner is seeking to overturn the ban, calling it “clearly disproportionate, discriminatory and not based on science.”
GARRY KASPAROV’S BLOG
President Putin is making great efforts to obliterate the internet for Russia-based ISPs, the last beacon of free information in a time when the country’s news media is a joke. Now, a new ruling allows the Kremlin to block any site for any content it finds “extremist.” The effects of this law are wide ranging. Facebook was blocked for several days because Rospotrebnadzor found some fake weed ads somewhere. And in March, Russia blocked news site Grani.ru for and tried to intimidate Interfax into dropping opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny’s column on the basis of alleged “illegal activities and participation in public events held in violation of the established order” aka opposition, protest, etc. Rospotrebnadzor also blocked the blog of Garry K. Kasparov, chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion and activist who was beaten by police during a pro-Pussy Riot protest in 2012.
ALREADY ILLEGAL ABORTIONS
On July 1st, Duma approved monetary penalties for illegal abortions.
Abortion remains one of the most common forms of birth control in Russia, which many would credit to the fact that sexual education is practically non-existent in Russian schools. The word “condom” is not in textbooks. There were efforts made to include sex ed in public schools, but they were shut down by the constant pressure from the Eastern Orthodox Church and related conservatives. But who cares about sexual freedom and safe contraception when you can make a baby and win a fridge!
ONLINE ANONYMITY AND PRIVACY
Putin also imposed severe laws requiring popular bloggers to register their given names with the government and provide their legal names and contact information on their webpages, so that they may be contacted by Rospotrebnadzor immediately when they do something “illegal.”
BANNING LGBT RIGHTS PROTESTS (IN ONE CITY)
Kostroma Regional Court in western Russia has ruled that a previous law banning public LGBT rights protests and marches for the next 100 years was, in fact, illegal. So, they banned the ban as a violation of Constitutional rights which we all forgot Russians had. Kostromo is the first city to overturn this ban. The prosecutor has the option of appealing to a higher court. Meanwhile in Samara, participants of an LGBT rights silence flashmob are face criminal charges. Do don’t be fooled. Being gay in Russia is still quite, quite fucked.
LGBT RIGHTS AND “FOREIGN AGENTS”
Speaking of the insane clusterfuck of increasingly aggressive anti-LGBT legislation, the “gay propaganda ban” is still in effect. Russia even brought the ban to Crimea after annexing it from Ukraine. Now, banks are denying funds to the LGBT organizations left in the country. And, upon nationwide inspection of thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) launched last year, many advocacy groups were deemed as “foreign agents” by the government — Perm Regional Human Rights Center, the GRANI Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival and Coming Out (an LGBT group). Activists are being pushed out of Moscow, St Petersburg and small towns and forced to seek asylum.
One lawmaker is proposing a ban on “canvas sneakers, ballet flats and high heels,” demanding “orthopedic regulations.”
Russian Prosecutor’s General Office Russian is working with law enforcement and the central bank to tighten regulations of “pseudo” currencies. This includes a possible legislation against crypto-currency. Kremlin has issued official rejection of Bitcoin, because it could be used for “money laundering and financing terrorism.”
INTERNET COMPANIES WITHOUT PHYSICAL SERVERS IN RUSSIA
If this newest bill is passed, every international service including Facebook and Google will be blocked by Russian ISPS until they get a physical server inside Russia’s borders. The servers will then store the data of its users. Here’s a TechCrunch article about it, which refers to Roskomnadzor as a “telecommunications agency.”
But good news! The online poker ban may soon be lifted.