A picture depicting Vladimir Putin in full make up has been banned in Russia.
The picture is cited on the Russian Justice Ministry’s list of banned “extremist” materials – a list which is 4,074 entries long. Number 4,071 states that the poster, depicting Putin with painted eyelashes and lips, implies “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation”.
It’s unclear exactly which image the Justice Ministry is talking about – but it is believed to be similar to one used on signs during protests against Russia’s anti-gay laws. It turns out, there are quite a lot of photoshopped images depicting Putin in drag.
Photoshopping makeup onto images of Putin has become commonplace since Russia passed a law banning gay “propaganda” in 2013.
According to the Moscow Times, the ban comes as a result of a verdict by a regional court in May 2016. A man named AV Tsvetkov uploaded the image alongside others which portrayed Putin and the prime minister Dmitry Medevev in Nazi uniforms. Court documents say he also shared racist images. The court banned about a dozen of the pictures he uploaded between June 2013 and October 2014. As well as this, his Vkontakte profile was deleted.
A quick search of Vkontakte, a Russian social media site, shows some users sharing similar images of Putin despite the ban. On Twitter, users were similarly amused:
Russia has just banned Putin in drag pics! You can be put in prison.R E T W E E T ! ! ! ! ! ! pic.twitter.com/csmWLVuPk6
April 6, 2017 (@xeni)
This ‘Putin as a gay clown’ image is now illegal in Russia, so please do not share it, nope https://t.co/fsWFyqCihR pic.twitter.com/qcX9BYZq97
April 6, 2017 Xeni Jardin
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the news service Tass, which is run by the state, that he had not seen the image. After claiming Putin is “quite resilient to these vulgarities” he said: “Our legislation has, so to say, a certain code defending a citizen’s honor and dignity, including those of the president. Individuals need to be guided by these norms, so unfortunately, I can say nothing.
Earlier this week, Putin defended China’s censorship of the internet. He said: “Callous quasi-freedom on the internet does not exist anywhere anymore.”