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United Russia MPs Object to Online Satire

RuNet Echo has recently reported on Lurkmore [GV], a satirical Russian Wikipedia-like website which was briefly blacklisted by Russian Internet Service Providers due to new censorship laws. Lurkmore's stint in the news increased the website's popularity, prompting popular photo-blogger and member of the opposition's Coordinating Council Rustem Adagamov to tweet [ru]:

Результат запрета: сегодня весь Рунет сидит на Луркморье. :-)

The result of the ban: today all of Runet is on Lurkmore. :-)

Unfortunately, it looks like Lurkmore's new-found notoriety has landed it into more hot water. Heretofore likely unaware of the site's existence, several Russian members of parliament have now taken notice of Lurkmore's entry on the ruling United Russia party [ru].

Like most Lurkmore entries, the one on United Russia is offensive to its subject matter, crude, lewd, not particularly safe for work, and filled with humorous analysis. This, for instance, is how it begins:

«Единая Россия» (вЕдРо, навальн. Партия Жуликов и Воров (ПЖиВ), нест. Партия Воров, Убийц и Педофилов, Едим Россию, Партия будущего Наших детей) — всероссийская политическая партия чиновников. Самоизбирается исключительно через методы: «Карусель», «Вброс», «Мёртвые души» и «Спиздил мешок и убежал».

“United Russia” (vEdRo [from United Russia->Edinaya Rossiya->EdRo(Core)->vEdRo(Bucket) -A.T.], navaln. Party of Crooks and Thieves (PCT), nest. Party of Thieves, Murderers, and Pedofiles, Eating Russia [from Edinaya Rossiia->Edim Rossiiu -A.T.], the Party of Our Children's Future) — a Russian political party of bureaucrats. Elects itself solely through the following methods: “Carousel”, “Ballot Stuffing”, “Dead Souls” and “Jacked the bag and ran away”.

This confusing, but rich definition references a critique of party ties to Russian bureaucracy, brings up parliamentary elections many felt were rigged in the party's favor, and lists party nicknames (the result of public outrage). The entry goes on to discuss the party's founding as a spiritual successor to the Communist Party. Lurkmore contributors weigh in on the party manifesto (possibly fake), the role of Putin's leadership, and the motivations of several party supporters. The entry also includes examples of United Russia's political propaganda as well as a selection of memes [ru], which include a series of altered party logos.

Example of altered United Russia logo meme. The bear has been replaced with a monkey, while the text reads “United Guinea.” November 24, 2012.

Quite predictably, exposure to such satire scandalized several members of United Russia, who, according to the internet tabloid Lifenews.ru [ru], have threatened to take the website to court to defend their “honor and dignity.” Lifenews quoted United Russia MP Yevgeny Fedorov:

Статья Lurkmore, как и другие лживые статьи в отношении нашей партии в Интернете, являются целенаправленной информационной войной со стороны Соединенных Штатов. [...] Что касается статьи про партию, она [...] вполне попадает под ответственность новой уголовной статьи за клевету.

The Lurkmore article, like other deceitful articles about our party on the Internet, is deliberate information warfare by the United States. [...] About the article itself, it [...] is altogether accountable under the new statute on libel.

Fedorov was supported by deputy Frants Klintsevich, who clutched at his pearls:

Этот мат могут посмотреть дети!

Children can see this filthy language!

There is precedent for Lurkmore taking down its articles as the result of legal action. In 2010 singer/blogger/journalist Yekaterina Gordon successfully took down [ru] her titular article as a result of an arbitration agreement with Lurkmore's administrators. Her reasons, however, weren't libel — she was apparently concerned [ru] with her personal information being disseminated on the page.

Of course, given its source, it is likely that this new scandal was manufactured. For example, one of the deputies quoted in the Lifenews.ru piece, Sergey Zhelezniak, later told the Interfax news agency [ru] that although he was indeed contacted by a Lifenews reporter asking for comment on the article, he has no time to read “fiction.” Twitter user @gorod095 confirmed [ru] the story:

Железняк сказал мне, что ему позвонили из @lifenews_ru и сказали, мол, есть такая плохая статья на Луркморье, может вы прочитаете и в суд?

Zhelezniak told me that someone called him from @lifenews_ru and said, here there's a naughty article on Lurkmore, maybe you'll read it and take them to court?

In any case, Lurkmore just got another popularity boost. The United Russia entry, on the other hand, will probably soon be updated to include the new developments in the most scathingly satirical way possible.

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