Russia has made it illegal to publish memes of President Vladimir Putin or celebrities. Russian media and telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has announced that you may be dragged to court if you publish memes that portray real people that does not “reflect their personality.” Cursing in all forms of media is already outlawed in Russia. This new restriction has made things worse, at least for Russian meme lovers.
Russia further tightens up the Internet laws
Moscow has been tightening up its Internet laws for the past few years. In 2014, Moscow made it mandatory for bloggers to register with the government to get rid of anonymous blogs. The controversial ruling came after a court ruled that Russian romantic singer Valeri Syutkin had his privacy violated by a meme. The meme in question featured him and the text BBPE, which is a line from another Russian artist Nambavan’s song.
BBPE is the short form of “Bei Babu Po Ebalu,” which means “Smack the bitch in the Face.” The meme had initially targeted many Russian celebrities before Valeri Syutkin eventually became the face of it. Banning memes isn’t a new policy, though, according to Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post. Roskomnadzor simply updated its personal data laws after the court ruled in Syutkin’s favor.
Russia gives websites two choices
Russia has also banned parody websites and accounts. If a public figure believes that a parody or meme has been made about them, they will have to report it to the Roskomnadzor, which can in turn file claims in court. Websites publishing such memes are given two choices: block the offending content or your website will get blocked across the country.
It is still unclear to what extent the Russian Internet will be affected. If the new policy is enforced, it will have huge implications on Russian meme lovers. According to a recent study, about 33% of the Internet’s most popular English-language memes depict a specific person. Now try to figure out the number of memes that depict Vladimir Putin.