September 17, 2021

Bribes Aren't Funny


Bribes Aren't Funny
The local government building in Yekaterinburg, suitably Soviet. Владислав Фальшивомонетчик, Wikimedia Commons

Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) seems to have a funny bone to pick with the Sverdlovsk government publication Oblastnaya Gazeta, blocking their website in delayed reaction to a questionable text.

On September 11, Roskomnadzor supposedly blocked the site of the publication, a socio-political magazine founded by the governor of the Sverdlovsk region and the regional legislative assembly, for the text “How to take and give bribes, so they don’t take them back later.” Oblastnaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief Dmitry Polyanin objected to the ban on Facebook.

“The site is blocked. Online media with an audience of one million readers a month for the period of the end of the election campaign for the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the Legislative Assembly of the Sverdlovsk region is deprived of the opportunity to inform citizens. Laugh, gentlemen, this infuriates Roskomnadzor."

He announced a few hours later that the site was live again.

Polyanin explained that the publication was first taken to court in 2017 for not adding “age markings” on regulations published on the official legal portal of the Sverdlovsk region. Polyanin was laughing even then. “According to Roskomnadzor, children should be protected from familiarizing themselves with our regulations.”

Kommersant published that Oblastnaya Gazeta removed the humorous text at the behest of Roskomnadzor in 2018, and the Volsky District Court of the Saratov Region decided that the humorous article in question amounted to “instructions for officials.” Later, the Kirovsky District Court of Yekaterinburg, where the publication is headquartered, overturned the first court’s decision.

A hectic few years for Oblastnaya Gazeta! While Interfax reports that Roskomnadzor has denied blocking the publication’s website, rest be assured that the Yekaterinburg newspaper might actually know some workarounds when dealing with monkey business.

 

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