Russia Cites Old Laws to Ban 136 Porn Websites

Apr 13, 2015 7:00 AM PST

TATARSTAN, Russia — Russia’s federal government watchdog Roskomnadzor has banned 136 porn websites including xHamster.com in the country’s Tatarstan Republic.

Prosecutors reportedly used obscure laws including the 1910 Convention for the Suppression of the Circulation of Obscene Publications, and the subsequent international agreement signed in Geneva in 1923, that banned the production, possession, and distribution of porn to petition a district court in Apastovsky, Tatarstan in their bid to enforce the ruling.

Despite the dated laws signed under the Tsarist and Soviet Union regimes, the court agreed that Internet porn is against Russian law and the targeted sites must purge themselves of all such material.

After searching Yandex (Russia's leading Internet search engine) for the terms “Kazan prostitutes” and “porno video,” film experts at the Ministry of Culture found that the websites in question were indeed porn.

The lawyers argued that the old laws stand because international obligations trump domestic legislation when the two are in conflict.

But a local adult filmmaker said Russian law is vague about regulating porn and noted that the only law on the books is Article 242 of the federal criminal code, which describes several illegal types of distribution, but does not clearly define legal ways to advertise, disseminate, and trade in porn.

It’s unclear whether the banned sites will be limited to Tartarstan or if the law will spread to the millions of other porn sites in Russia, but it signals an anti-porn uptick since Vladimir Putin's Internet crackdown when he returned to the Kremlin in 2012.

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