Vladimir Putin Restricting Naughty Language And 'Unregistered' Bloggers

from the a-personal-threat dept

I’ve always kind of known that Vladimir Putin was a bit of a bastard. Between his hypocrisy on government snooping, to his horrific record on matters of artistic and political speech, and his absolute willingness to destabilize his neighborhood in favor of having Russia pick up some territory that didn’t belong to it in the form of Georgia and Ukraine. That said, two recent actions by Putin are starting to make me think this guy might just be as bad as everyone says.

The first is what appears to be an entirely childish attempt to stifle supposedly naughty language in the arts.

Any new film containing obscene language won’t be granted a distribution certificate, so there’s no chance of seeing it at the movie theater. And copies of books, CDs or films containing swearing can only be distributed in a sealed package labeled “Contains obscene language,” a Kremlin statement said. According to state news agency ITAR-Tass, individuals caught using foul language face a fine of up to $70, while officials can be fined up to $40 and businesses nearly $1,400. They face a higher fine and a three-month suspension of business for repeated offenses.

As of the time of this writing, it’s unclear exactly what will constitute “obscene” language, though the Russian government has helpfully noted that they’ll be the ones judging such obscenities with an “independent examination,” which is likely to be just as “independent” as you’d suppose. Given the fact that Russia has found the LGBT community in the past to be oh-so icky-icky, you’d have to imagine that language dealing with their community will be on the list, alongside some of the hallmark swear words, like religiously offensive language, f-bombs, and-


Er, thank you, Mr. President. My problem with this should be obvious: I love swearing. Seriously, I use the f-word as a verbal comma. But putting me aside, the idea that a developed nation’s leader could think so little of his own people as to make it the state’s responsibility to protect their delicate little ears is beyond silly. Restrictions on free speech are one thing, but when you’re restricting the only speech that makes logical sense as a reaction to the very restriction on that speech, things have gone recursively wrong. Because if your first reaction to someone telling you that you can’t swear any longer isn’t “Well, shit,” then you have a problem.

But if you thought that Putin was going to get blasted for this motherly move online, you may not know that he also signed into law the requirement for bloggers with even modest readership to register with the government and ban anonymity on their sites, which we were among the first to report about a few weeks back:

Russia has taken another major step toward restricting its once freewheeling Internet, as President Vladimir V. Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular online voices to register with the government, a measure that lawyers, Internet pioneers and political activists said Tuesday would give the government a much wider ability to track who said what online.

Widely known as the “bloggers law,” the new Russian measure specifies that any site with more than 3,000 visitors daily will be considered a media outlet akin to a newspaper and be responsible for the accuracy of the information published. Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted over the previous six months.

This is, of course, aimed at chilling speech critical of Putin’s Russian government, which currently seems to be attempting to scale back the whole democracy thing and inch closer and closer to the days of the Soviet Union. I don’t say that lightly. Russia’s restrictions on speech, freedom, persecution of minorities, and a clear aim towards expansion of real territory and cultural influence are something right out of the post World War Two era. This might scare some people, but not me.

Why? Because, just like the recent revolution in Ukraine, this kind of thing doesn’t work any longer. And, yes, I realize that there are nations out there that still restrict the internet, speech, and freedoms, but they don’t go from democratically free back to repression any longer. That whole thing about the internet being the “Wild West” is true in some ways. Putin will never be able to plug all the holes. He’ll never be able to tamp down all the critical speech. And, like the former Ukraine government found before him, he will end up finding that the tighter he grips the internet’s throat, the stronger it will fight back. It may not be quick, but it will happen.

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Comments on “Vladimir Putin Restricting Naughty Language And 'Unregistered' Bloggers”

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jameshogg says:

Homophobic, repressive, imperialist, dictator supporting, civil-war starting thug.

I’m sick of the way people make excuses for what he’s doing to Ukraine and Syria. He had been threatening Ukraine for the past 10 years.

And despite all that, Ron Paul a few weeks ago on U.K.’s Channel 4 news claimed that the U.S. was to blame for Ukraine’s nightmare. He openly said the U.S. plotted the overthrow of Yanukovych, and that they had a hand in provoking Russia.

How the fuck is Ukraine any threat to Russia? Nobody has even attempted to answer.

I often wonder what it would take to snap people out of the America-First-Cause mentality: the mentality they are too cowardly to admit having.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

You really should have a look at your history before posting stuff like this. While I don’t agree with a lot of the crap he’s pulled, there is really no good argument to be made that Crimea “does not belong to Russia.”

It was a USSR-era screwup that placed Crimea–a region where the vast majority of citizens are ethnic Russians, not Ukranians, who speak Russian, not Ukranian, and identify with Russian culture, not Ukranian culture–as part of the Ukraine. Imagine if, for some bizarre reason, Montana had spent the last few decades as a part of Canada, and now both the people of Montana and the US government were saying “Montana really should be part of the USA like it always has been.”

Would you condemn that? I wouldn’t.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

Mmm… not quite, Mason. Imagine Mexico claiming that California, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona are theirs on the basis of ethnic Latinos living there. There already are ethnic Latinos, not Americans, who speak Spanish, not English, and identify with Latino culture, not Anglo-American culture–as part of America.

Now imagine Mexico getting uppity about it over access to the Gulf of California, perhaps for oil or fishing rights. Which side would you be on?

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

No, the GOP. /snark

Seriously, Putin is doing what the authoritarians on the right dream of – and he’s getting away with it. Russian exceptionalism is driving this, according to FP.

I’m not sure if he’s going to bring the Soviet State back – that would mean abolishing private enterprise, but a new authoritarian police state backed by a “moral majority” convinced he’ll make the trains run on time, etc. and take on the “decadent West?” I can see that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

‘According to state news agency ITAR-Tass, individuals caught using foul language face a fine of up to $70, while officials can be fined up to $40…’

Well at least they’re being honest enough to admit right out the gate that it’s meant to be used against the public, not for them.

Also, I can’t help but think the ‘obscenity’ excuse is just that, an excuse. Given how much they’re trying to crack down on any dissenting opinions or ‘non-official’ reporting, I don’t imagine it will be too long before any speech found to be critical of the Russian government, or calling them out on their lies, is also treated as a punishable offense under this law, likely under the reasoning of ‘Inciting civil-unrest’ or ‘Inciting civil-disobedience’.

Whatever says:

Re: Re: Then there is Snowdon

I mention him only because not that long ago everyone around her was lapping up Putin’s crap because he clearly was more about freedom than the US. How quickly the worm turns!

You have to think that SnowdEn is being used by Putin extensively to undermine the US. Want to bet Putin is working the notes abut Ukraine these days?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Then there is Snowdon

You do know that thinking that Snowden has done the world a service, and thinking that Putin is an evil dictator, are not mutually exclusive, right? Snowden being stranded in Russia is an accident of circumstance (brought about by the US, incidentally,) not choice, and his being there doesn’t in any way reflect badly upon him OR well on Putin.

zip says:

Propaganda and Kool Aid

“Vladimir Putin … his absolute willingness to destabilize his neighborhood in favor of having Russia pick up some territory that didn’t belong to it in the form of Georgia and Ukraine.”

This instability was created largely by the United States policy of flooding billions of dollars of taxpayer money to radical revolutionaries in Russian border states in order to wrench these countries away — whether by ballot or bullet — from their traditionally Russian sphere of influence and trading partnerships and into the lap of the US/NATO/IMF control.

Russian-hating racists were encouraged, nurtured, and financed in Georgia and Ukraine to take power, and it’s hardly a surprise that ethnic Russian citizens soon found themselves under attack, both culturally, politically — and finally militarily — by ethnocentric-minded rulers who despise the ethnic Russian population living in their country.

There’s also Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko (a relative moderate) and her famous “scorched-earth” comment “It’s time to grab guns and kill fucking Russians … etc…” – which sadly, many people took literally, especially in Odessa a few days ago, accomplished by burning down a large building full of people and then openly bragging about it. (indeed the US corporate media still cling to the storyline that “it’s unclear how the fire started” despite the hundreds of online videos that show from many different angles, and in excruciating detail, EXACTLY how the fire started.)

Doesn’t it seem strange that these supposedly “democracy promoting” NGOs would work to overthrow an elected government? And even if they were “playing by the rules” there’s no doubt long term damage to the ideals of democracy when a foreign government can just step in and essentially buy an election. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland let slip in a recent CNN interview that the US has spent $5 billion trying to influence Ukraine’s elections (presumably not counting the classified CIA and DoD budgets). As well as Nuland’s leaked phone call where she recommends Yatsenyuk as the chosen one to assume power in the ongoing coup (which he later does).

It may come as a shock to some people, Americans especially, that not everyone in the world considers the United States an honorable country, especially in its relationship with other countries, and may even consider Russia as a much lesser evil.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Propaganda and Kool Aid

This, for anyone who might read it and think that this sounds correct, is a bullshit half-story. Crimea was conquered under Catherine the Great in the late 1700s, after which it remained mostly autonomous until Stalin gobbled it up in the 50s. At that point, there was a concerted effort to influx ethnic Russians into Crimea in order to bring it fully into the Soviet sphere of influence.

That this annexation through breeding succeeded doesn’t make the Crimean region rightfully Russian anymore than the influx of immigrants in south Texas makes south Texas Mexico. Crimea was legally part of Ukraine. Russia annexed it. It’s that simple.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Propaganda and Kool Aid

While he has a point the US has had its share of absurdity in international policies one wrong doesn’t make the other right. Notice that Russia is not the only one doing this expansion tactics. China is way worse. They are seeking to dominate via economy and spread of Chinese throughout the world. It’s scandalous here. I should note that this issue must be threaded cautiously not to turn it into hatred towards the Chinese people or the Russians themselves. Most are only victims. Much like Israel being an asshole towards Palestine is the doing of a smaller group within the Jewish/Israeli demographics.

zip says:

Re: Re: Re: Propaganda and Kool Aid

Whenever empires break up, they tend to dissolve in warfare, due largely as a result of the tactics that were used to hold them together, such as settler programs, land and wealth redistribution, as well as the classic “divide and rule” tactics. The once-privileged minority ethnicity (whether indigenous or imported) who was, quite naturally, loyal to the ’emperor’, becomes fair game for retribution and ‘settling old scores’ as nationalism takes hold.

I’ll assume that the Russian population in Ukraine likely finds itself in a similar predicament as the British (Protestant) population in (Northern) Ireland. It creates a very complicated and messy situation with no easy answers — in sharp contrast to the dumbed-down “black vs. white” narrative that the mainstream news media feeds us. Which in the case of Ukraine and Russia, is also heavily propagandized.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Give that one time. That said, they were “free” for roughly ten minutes until the new leader turned out to be much like the old leader, and then the military took over to make SURE shit was like it had always been.

That said, Egyptians in general are too proud and too intelligent to let this go on for much longer….

Pete Nash (profile) says:

I think most people have completely overlooked what a masterful diplomatic and economic face-slap this new legislation this is to the US.

Not only does this allow the Russian Government to earn significant revenue from obscenity filled media, but it will eventually have a chilling effect on Russian Television, Radio and Cinema from showing/playing American TV shows, music, and movies – which just happens to be some of the most profanity media produced today – also effectively strangling sales too.

Whilst the US keeps threatening sanctions against the Russian energy sector, Putin has retaliated by kicking Hollywood in the balls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Always baffles me, the whole “obscene” and “offensive” word thing.
I don’t know if people are hyper sensitive, morally judgmental or just retarded.

I get why you don’t call a gay person a “faggot” just for being gay. But I don’t see a problem in using the word. We should let it redefine. Not reserve it to be solely a derogatory term for gay people.

Make sure an “offensive” word is exclusively reserved to cause offense by making it static in meaning forever. WHY?

Like how Black people, specifically Americans have reclaimed the definition of “nigger” and use it as a different meaning. They don’t agree with the definition that some people try to restrict and reserve the word to be.

Agreeing with the definition and meaning of the “offensive” word and wanting it to stay defined that way is an offensive viewpoint.

I will give people the benefit of the doubt. Best case: People are fucking idiots.

Russia can ban “offensive” words. Sugarcoat all their offensive actions with “nice” words etc… The point still remains, context and meaning is far more important than form of articulation.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

And a douche

“I’ve always kind of known that Vladimir Putin was a bit of a bastard.”

More than a bit. It can be easy to miss sometimes because it’s often eclipsed by his overpowering douchiness. But nobody should have missed the red flag that was Bush’s comment about him:

I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.

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