Sunday, September 14, 2008
The Exile Banned in Russia
The sarcastic and sometimes obscene publication, The Exile, was banned in Russia after eleven years of entertaining the good-humored and English-speaking community of Moscow.
References to hookers and extremely crass mockery of Russian politicians were a constant feature until an unexpected inspection was conducted by Russia’s Federal Service for Mass Media. The investigation was to determine if the biweekly was in compliance with Russian media laws.
The government media watchdog has yet to issue the results of its inspection and Yevgeny Strelchik, a spokesman for the watchdog, has declined to give any details. The newspaper could be reprimanded for, among other things, publishing pornography or extremist statements, or for promoting drug use.
"While it would not be difficult to find The Exile guilty on all three counts," The American Founder of Exile said" the inspectors’ conclusions are now largely irrelevant." In what he described as a type of soft censorship that permeates Russia’s current mass media climate, the attention paid by authorities to the newspaper was enough to prompt its funders to flee.“The government does not need to jail or shoot people,” Mr. Ames said. “All they have to do to keep people under control is say ‘Boo!’
From its inception, The Exile has rubbed officials the wrong way, “but 10 years ago people were not so scared about challenging the state," Mr. Ames said. “Now, if you take on the government, not only is there a 100 per cent chance of losing, you could have your assets stripped or go to jail,” he said.
It's not likely that The Exile will ever publish another issue, “unless some angel or miracle comes along”, Mr. Ames lamented. “But I don’t think that anyone wants to touch me. It’s like I have polonium on me.”In the meantime, the publication is calling for donations on its website in the hopes of generating enough revenue to keep the site alive.
“This has always been more of an artistic and writers’ project,” Mr. Ames explained. “The business part of it has been a colossal failure.”