Russia’s Vladimir Putin got fed up with people sharing photos of himself wearing makeup and acting gay. Now he’s made it a serious crime.
No wonder Donald Trump and the GOP love him so much.
When you first see the post by zzpitchka on Reddit, it looks like fake news. Titled “Reposting this picture is now officially considered extremism in Russia. Punishable by up to 5 years in prison,” it certainly seems outrageous.
Yet this particular Reddit – /r/pics – has strict guidelines, and the post earned 97,081 points at the time of this writing. Plus, the redditor offered links to sources. Here’s a screen shot.
As it turns out, Russia’s official Ministry of Justice website has a “Federal List of Extremist Materials.” From there, you can download a massive Microsoft Word document that was updated on March 30th. When you scroll down to item number 4071, copy the text, and paste it into Google’s translator, you get this:
A poster depicting a man resembling the president of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin, on whose face makeup – painted eyelashes and lips, which, according to the author / authors of the poster, should serve as a hint of allegedly non-standard sexual orientation of the Russian president. The text under the image (reproduced with preservation of features of spelling and punctuation, with the cover of obscene vocabulary): “Putin’s electors, like … there are many, but among my friends there are none”, posted May 7, 2014 in the social network “Vkontakte” On the account http://vk.com/id161877484 with the nickname “Alexander Tsvetkov” (decision of the Central District Court of the city of Tver on 11.05.2016)
In other words, stuff that portrays Vladimir Putin wearing makeup or that in any way offers “a hint of the allegedly non-standard sexual orientation of the Russian president” will be seen as criminally extreme…along with other forms of what we would call hate speech.
In June, Russia Beyond the Headines — which The Guardian reports as Russian propaganda straight from the Kremlin — wrote an article titled, “Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser.” It claimed the laws were meant to fight “Internet extremism.”
Yet even this pro-Russia source makes it sound a lot more ominous than that.
There is a whole set of laws in Russia aimed to prevent and combat incitement of hatred and animosity. Yet it is cases related to “internet extremism” that are causing the most concern among the public and the more liberal press. A like or a retweet are no longer considered harmless: They may send a user to prison, though they are more usually punishable with a fine.
As in the U.S., Russia’s current leaders claim they want to protect us, yet they seem mostly concerned about alleged Islamic threats and people saying bad things about their Dear Leader.
On the one hand, these anti-Putin memes are also often anti-LGBT…so perhaps the Ministry of
Truth Justice has a point. On the other hand, many Russians (and Americans) see LGBT people as weak, and a strongman like Vladimir Putin can’t ever allow his people to see him as weak.
The Kremlin’s good intentions would be easier to believe were it not for their anti-gay crackdowns and the violence against the LGBT community it’s tolerated and encouraged over the years. Even more alarming, Russia Beyond the Headlines crows:
Over the past five years, the number of criminal prosecutions for internet extremism has grown by 350 percent. While in 2011 there were 82 criminal cases started on those charges, by 2015 this number had risen to 369, according to calculations by experts from the Center of Economic and Political Reforms.
TJournal, A Russian-language blog, adds that when you violate Part 1 of Article 282 of Russia’s Criminal Code – which now includes all those gay Vladimir Putin memes — the penalty is “up to 500 thousand rubles or imprisonment for up to five years.”
At the current exchange rate, 500,000 rubles adds up to $8,930 U.S. at the time of this writing.
Sharing these hilarious photos is now illegal in Russia.
A quick search on Google.Ru (Google in Russia) reveals a lot of photos that may soon be gone.
1. Google’s translation for the photo’s caption bizarrely burbles, “Gay parade: Cutie Putin and Medvedev in Berlin <3 This is something!”
2. According to Google’s garbled translation, this meme says something like, “Okay come again, only without tongue this time.”
3. This photo features Vladimir Putin with a rather fetching Victor Victoria look.
4. And here’s Putie rocking those under-eye bag rainbows.
5. All hail Mother Russia.
6. “So soon our president meet alone with a known homosexual [activist Nikolai Aleksee]. Surely this will be a candlelight dinner and shared swim in the presidential swimming pool.” (Translation from LiveJournal entry).
7. Is that a random pink, fuzzy stick in the photo, or is Russia’s Dear Leader just glad to see us?
8. Vladimir Putin as Russia’s “My Little Brony.”
9. Poster shown in a Gay Pride parade.
10. The Spongebob Square Pants version is better.
11. What the actual f*ck is this?
12. Date night.
13. Apparently some folks from Russia didn’t approve of his meetings with then-U.S. President Barack Obama.
14. Putin on a rainbow.
15. Faked photo made to not-quite look like Putin’s marching in a Gay Pride Parade…as his suspiciously long arm reaches out to hold a comrade’s hand.
16. Like Andy Warhol’s portrait of Liza Minelli, only…not.
17. Cry me a rainbow.
18. Nice outfit.
19. Got Pride?
20. Now, Teletubbies Tinky Winky‘ ‘s even scarier…and where’s the red purse?
21. Jealous much?
Photos: Composite via photos from Russian social media.