“...publishing in the Soviet Union was the art of the impossible.”
February 22, 2016 9:05 AM Subscribe
Russian Purge Part 1: Putin Doesn't Need to Censor Books. Publishers Do It For Him. by Masha Gessen [The Intercept_]
“So, could you publish my Putin book?”Part 2: The Horror Story of Publishing Children’s Books in Russia by Masha Gessen [The Intercept_]
“No,” he says simply. “That’s not possible.”
“Have you asked the lawyers about it?”
He is very patient with me.
“That’s just not possible. But some day.”
There we have it. Publishing in Russia is the art of the possible. That is not the same thing as censorship. Or is it?
At first, the law had publishers in a panic. If you believed what it said, Russian children were to be protected from reading in general. Children under the age of 6 could read about violence only if it was not described in detail, the author’s sympathies were clearly with the victim, and good triumphed over evil. There, apparently, went Little Red Riding Hood, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Between the ages of 6 and 12, children were allowed to learn about illness but not death. Violence continued to be off limits. So, obviously, did sex, and indeed any “naturalistic” description of the human body. Little Red Riding Hood, in other words, would still be too much for older kids, to say nothing of adventure novels and just about any contemporary Western books for this age group.Part 3: For Putin's Censors, Only Suicide is Worse than Homosexuality by Masha Gessen [The Intercept_]
It is the opinion of Russian censors that there is something worse than homosexuality, and that is suicide.The law “On Protecting Children From Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” bans the propaganda of suicide to anyone under 18. A September 2013 order from Roskomnadzor, the communications authority, explains what that means: “any mention of suicide as a way of solving a problem” and “the inclusion of information of one or more ways to commit suicide, descriptions or demonstrations, including textual … of processes and procedures that depict any sequence of actions.” A news site for the city of Saratov was so stymied by these restrictions that in September it published the following headline [Russian] about a high school senior’s suicide: “In Saratov, After a Fight With Her Parents, a Student Committed a Certain Act for Certain Reasons.” Reporting what the girl had done might have violated the ban on description of suicide, and reporting why she had done it might have suggested it was her way of solving a problem.
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