You are not Charlie Hebdo: Roscomnadzor warns Russian media about religious extremism.

On the eve of Media Day, the professional holiday of journalists in Russia, Kamchatka’s department of Roscomnadzor has sent out official letters to all local media with a warning regarding “prohibited publishing of any comic portraits of religious leaders in mass media”. One of the local journalists, Vladimir Efimov, has published this letter on his Facebook page.  A Roscomnadzor representative, Maria Smetankina, who was sending out this letter  has commented that this is the  official position of Roscomnadzor regarding the recent terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. Roscomnadzor also recommended that media refrain from publishing any references or links to foreign media or any other sites promoting comic images of religious leaders.  This letter was sent out to all magazines, newspapers, radio and TV stations, and online media.  Violation of this recommendation will be considered  a violation of the Russian law on Extremism.  Roscomnadzor press secretary Vladimir Ampelonskii has commented that this was a preliminary measure/warning to avoid violations of the Extremism law.

Earlier, Chechnya president Ramzan Kadyrov was speaking against religious comic pictures, which offend the religious feelings of Muslim people.  Russian ex-oligarch and now-political activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky was appealing to Russian media to join the international campaign for human rights, and also to publish protest pictures with “Je suis Charlie” on their covers.  In response to that, Ramzan Kadrov has called Mikhail Khodorkovsky “an enemy to all Muslims.”  As he has written on his Instagram profile “We will not let anyone insult Mohammed, even if it costs us our lives. Muslim people never publish pictures of Mohammed, never portray him in movies.  But if we  remain silent, that doesn’t matter - we can raise millions of people to protest against those who don’t respect our religion”.  Ramzan Kadyrov has also claimed that “Echo Moskvy” editor Alexey Venedictov  has insulted Muslim people by publishing a poll on whether Mohammed images should be allowed to be published in media.  Russian vice prime minister Dmitry Rogozin also has spoken out against religious pictures in media: “Terrorism is evil and cannot be justified, but we cannot replace freedom of speech with the freedom to insult people’s religious feelings.”


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