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Moscow Court Censors Pussy Riot Videos, Calling Them “Extremist”

by Jillian Steinhauer on November 30, 2012

Screen shot from the Pussy Riot video of the controversial performance inside the cathedral in Moscow

Screen shot from the Pussy Riot video of the controversial performance inside the cathedral in Moscow (image via YouTube)

A Moscow court has ruled that four videos by punk-art-protest band Pussy Riot are “extremist” and that websites hosting the videos must remove them or pay fines.

Among the four videos is one showing the group dancing and singing an anti-Putin song in a Russian Orthodox cathedral earlier this year. That’s the performance that led to the conviction of three band members on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”; one of the women was subsequently released, while the other two are serving time in Soviet-era labor camps with extremely harsh conditions.

The Zamoskvorechye District Court in Moscow ordered limited access to websites hosting the videos, and declared that those sites that don’t remove the offending videos will incur administrative penalties such as fines up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000).

The Atlantic has some insights from Russian blogger and media analyst Oleg Kozyrev, who predicts that the videos will become much, much harder to find in Russia, even on social network pages:

The power structures will try to ensure that these video clips do not appear on at least the main blog platforms and social networks. In all probability, if they find the clips displayed they will appeal to the owners of the social network. And to be honest, I think that in all probability these social networks will not refuse. The majority of them will meet them in the middle and will close the pages displaying these clips.

Meanwhile, Russian officials quaintly continue to deny all accusations of censorship, and the country’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, has found a way around the Pussy Riot problem by simply omitting them from the category of art. As he said at a recent press conference:

Pussy Riot has no relationship to art … to modern art, to old art, to any art. They are sitting in jail not as artists, but as hooligans. There is no censorship in the country in any form.

What Medinsky seems to forget is that there are no qualifications when it comes to censorship — good, bad, non-art, it doesn’t matter. So go visit Pussy Riot’s YouTube page, and play the hell out of those videos.

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