Putin: Banish Smurfs into Exile!

It’s the military clashes in eastern Ukraine that are deservedly getting all the media attention now, those between the Ukrainian “neo-fascist nazi’s” on the one hand and those pro-Russian “terrorists” on the other. But there is at the same time an undercurrent of reports about how Russian society itself has recently changed, and how it is changing as Vladimir Putin whips up war-fever to rally his citizens around his authoritarian rule.

It’s often very ugly, such as with the website that has been set up to list publicly the Russian Federations greatest “traitors” – check it out, the very URL (http://predatel.net) is the transliteration of the Russian word for “traitor” (предател). No surprise, at the top of the list you’ll find the anti-corruption blogger and Moscow mayor also-ran (but barely) Alexei Navalny, currently under house arrest and prohibited from communicating with anyone (including via Internet) other than his family.

But this can take a turn to the ludicrous as well:

From the Czech Television website: “In the service of ideology. Putin wants to forbid the Smurfs.” (Šmouly – that’s “Smurfs” in Czech. I don’t know what their name is in Russian – reader tips are welcome! UPDATE: And they have arrived! It’s Смурфики.)

Of course, it’s not actually Putin himself. It’s rather the Russian Education Ministry which has proposed banning the Smurfs from Russian TV as “damaging to youth,” but Putin has given this his blessing. And that’s not all: other series such as South Park and the Simpsons are likely to be under similar review soon.

The piece mentions that, at the same time and half a world away, North Korea has indicated it is considering welcoming BBC productions such as Dr. Who, Top Gear and – yes! – the Teletubbies to its home market. (Think of the cultural shock! I’m not sure anyone in North Korea, outside of the top leadership, is familiar with the concept of “tubby.”) Clearly, part of the intent here is to avoid the insidious children’s propaganda coming from the superpower with which North Korea has long been in direct confrontation, the US, but you still have to worry for Vladimir Putin and his Education Minister when even North Korea is OK with Western media productions.

And that is not all, as we see from Sandra Brovall of the Danish newspaper Politiken:

Karlsson på taget: That’s Karlsson-on-the-roof, a series of children’s books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren who is more famous in Europe and the US for Pippi Longstocking.

Karlsson_russkyYes, that’s another poisonous foreign import upon which the Russian Education Ministry has set its sights. That’s very strange, because it’s apparently especially in Russia – possibly even more than in Sweden – that Karlsson-on-the-roof has had its greatest cultural impact over three decades, especially in cartoon form. In fact, the Danish Wikipedia entry even provides as an illustration the 50-kopek Russian stamp (1992: so just post-Soviet) that you see here to the left. (Карлсон = “Karlsson,” but I don’t know what the actual Russian name for the book-series is. UPDATE: It’s Карлсон, который живёт на крыше, or literally “Karlsson who lives on the roof.”)

And there’s surely more to come! Brovall cites a recent Russian TV-debate, monitored by Swedish Radio, at which three out of the four participants approved kicking Karlsson off his roof and out of the country. The Communist Party representative added:

Stories about Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck should be absolutely forbidden, together with all those American things that you couldn’t find during Soviet times.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.