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Russia prosecutors move to ban 'South Park' broadcasts

[JURIST] The Moscow Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] filed a motion Monday to ban the US animated series South Park [entertainment website], alleging it violates children's rights under international law. In a press release [text, in Russian], the office said it was taking "measures to remove violations and prevent abuse of freedom of mass media" by Telekanal 2x2 [media website, in Russian], which broadcasts South Park and other US shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to the press release, a study commissioned by prosecutors found that "information products of low moral and ethical content have had a devastating impact on children, distorts their values, and poses the risk of panic states and neurotic disorders." The press release continued:

The broadcast violates the prohibition on abuse of freedom of mass media, in particular, on the distribution of media materials that promote pornography, violence and cruelty. Broadcasting cartoons in the time available for children contradicts the universally recognized principles and norms of international law aimed at protecting the rights and legitimate interests of children, protecting them from information and material harmful to their welfare, health, and moral and spiritual development.
Telekanal 2x2 responded to the charges in a blog posting [text, in Russian] on its website, saying it "does not agree with the claims and intends to resolve the issues in court." Last week, the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith asked prosecutors to investigate Telekanal 2x2 [RIA Novosti report]. The group's leader said the program insults religion and incites hatred. Reuters has more. RIA Novosti has local coverage.

Earlier this year, Russian religious leaders asked the Prosecutor General's Office to revoke Telekanal 2x2's license for allegedly promoting immorality and violence. The Russian Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Communications, Communications and Cultural Heritage Protection (Rossvyazokhrankultura) [official website] warned Telekanal 2x2 about its broadcast of other programs and recommended that they be taken off the air. Russia [JURIST news archive] has moved to restrict freedom of expression in recent years as a means of fighting "extremism." A 2006 law signed by then-President Vladimir Putin [JURIST report] criminalizes the public defending of terrorism, "humiliating national merit," and publicly slandering government officials. Last year, a lead prosecutor suggested censoring the Internet [JURIST report] to combat extremism. This year, however, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev encouraged the Russian parliament to reject a bill [JURIST report] that would allow officials to close media outlets suspected of spreading libel or slander.

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