It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown
Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown.
Russian news outlets are having trouble reporting exactly which image of the Internet's many Putin-gay-clown memes is now illegal to share. Because, you know, it's been banned.
But the picture was described last week on the Russian government's list of things that constitute “extremism.”
Item 4071: a picture of a Putin-like person “with eyes and lips made up,” captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.”
The Moscow Times thinks it probably looks like this:
The Kremlin has also become fairly adept at controlling what people say about each other on the Internet.
Russia passed its first “Internet extremism” laws in 2013, according to the Moscow Times — a year after Putin returned to the presidency and began restricting civil rights.
A year later, the paper reported, Putin signed a law imposing prison sentences for people who give so much as thumbs-up to a forbidden online post. Those include an article about a theoretical coup, which landed a philosophy professor in detention.
In 2015, Russian authorities began shutting down websites of Putin critics, and restricting nearly all anonymous blogs, The Washington Post reported. And Russia's Internet censor has long allowed public figures to file court complaints if they run across a meme that misrepresents their “personality.” Like this one, maybe.
Last year, United Press International and other outlets reported on a single mother sentenced to community service for reposting a cartoon of Putin looking at a map with a knife in his hand. And a former naval captain from Rostov who reposted an antiwar report about Ukraine got a two-year suspended sentence and one year of probation for inciting hatred and animosity.
The Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, recorded cellphone videos of the atmosphere in Russia's capital on March 26 as tens of thousands of protesters rally against corruption. (David Filipov, The Washington Post)
The saga of the banned Putin clown actually began years ago, when a man posted a slew of offensive images to a Russian Facebook clone.
They included openly racist and anti-immigrant posts, according to Radio Free Europe. The man was convicted last year, his social media account was shut down, and he was placed in psychiatric care.