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Internet Censorship Is Getting Worse

Published: December 9, 2013 (Issue # 1789)

Schoolchildren in the city of Krasnodar will not be able to watch a puppet theater performance of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute" this year. Bureaucrats at the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service put an 18+ label on the show. The reason: In the opera, one of the heroines wants to kill herself.

Age restrictions on access to information, including Internet sites, have been in place for more than a year in the country. But until now they had not been applied to classical works of literature and art. Soon this might change. On Dec. 4, the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service presented a project called "The Concept of Informational Security for Children." Among its stipulations is a ban that would keep minors from watching on the Internet classical works of art that include images of the nude body in any form, and anything that might be considered erotic.

Censorship would also extend to works of literature in which the characters use alcohol and drugs or commit crimes, or in works where there are "statements destructive to the social institution of the family."

A more radical proposal in the project forbids "the depiction or description of mishaps, accidents or catastrophes" in television and radio news shows before 9 p.m. If this becomes law, daytime news shows will revert to the Soviet standard of "all day, all good news."

Teenage morality has become the idee fixe of lawmakers and bureaucrats for the last year or so. They passed a homophobic law forbidding "homosexual propaganda" supposedly to "protect children" and are using the same argument to step up censorship on the Internet.

Censorship on the Russian Internet has existed for a long time and is handled by several agencies: the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Drug Control Service and even the Federal Consumer Protection Service. These agencies draw up a list of sites to be blocked by the providers. These lists contain thousands of sites and pages.

A glance at the list of "extremist" materials on the Justice Ministry site shows that "care for children" is a smokescreen for politics. You can find just about anything on the list, from "Mein Kampf" and videos of Islamic fundamentalists to sites of the Jehovah's Witnesses, unregistered political parties and opposition blogs.

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Sunday, Apr. 20

Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.

Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.

Monday, Apr. 21

Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.

Tuesday, Apr. 22

SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.

The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.