Russia Threatens to Ban Reddit over ‘How to Grow Narcotic Plants’ Thread

Reuters/Robert Galbraith
Reuters/Robert Galbraith

The Russian government may ban the website community Reddit, it warned, after a thread informed readers how to grow narcotic plants.

Roskomnadzor, the media watchdog department, acknowledged the thread on VKontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook. Their post states the country’s Drug Enforcement Administration informed them of the thread. They also claim the department sent numerous emails to Reddit to remove the thread, but no one answered.

“We assume that during the August holidays someone is too relaxed,” they wrote.

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The statement persuaded people with contacts at Reddit to reach out to them about the thread. If it is not removed soon, Roskomnadzor threatened to block the site.

Russia has experienced a rise in censorship within the last year after Moscow invaded east Ukraine and annexed Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin shut down every news outlet that dared to question his motives. The Kremlin then banned all “profanity” from the arts, but did not define profanity. They also expanded the personal data law to make it illegal to post memes using the likenesses of public personalities.

Anti-gay Russian politician Vitaly Milonov demanded the Kremlin outlaw HBO’s popular Game of Thrones due to themes of incest, homosexuality, and rape.

“Every tenth character in it [‘Game of Thrones’] is a sexual deviant,” he stated. “It is precisely through this kind of content and its popularization that a new model is introduced in our conscience, leading people to believe that certain things and events are normal.”

Roskomnadzor asked the “Young Guard,” the youth wing of Putin’s United Russia party, to investigate the newest set of international emojis, available on most smart phones. They want the group to examine these emojis from both telephones and social media, “including Facebook, to see if they are propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations for minors.”

Senator Michael Marchenko was the first to bring up the issue. He slammed the gay emojis for promoting “same-sex love.”

“These emoticons with different sexual orientations are visible to all users on social networks, most of which are minors,” he stated. “But the promotion of homosexuality is prohibited by law and prohibited traditional values that exist in our country. Therefore, in my opinion, the adoption of measures is obvious and urgent.”

Russia passed its “gay propaganda” law in June 2013. The law bans people from handing out “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. It also made it “illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights.” The government can fine people 4,000-5,000 rubles ($67-$83) if they violate the law. Businesses even face closure if they are found guilty, “while foreigners can be arrested and detained for 15 days, while facing fines up to about $83.”