South Park Episode Mocking Putin Censored

By Sadie Bass

Jul 13, 2009 9:31am

ABC's Alexander Marquardt reports from Moscow: An episode of the infamously irreverent cartoon South Park was edited by a Russian television channel last week, slicing out a sequence that poked fun at Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The adult cartoon channel “2×2″ wouldn’t give a reason why it cut a one-minute portion of the episode portraying Putin as a greedy and desperate leader, and the Russian broadcast regulator denied that they played a role.   "We have never interfered with editorial decisions," said spokesman Yevgeny Strelchik. The episode originally aired in the US in 2005 and 2×2 says that this is the third time this year that the censored version has aired in Russia. The video that ended up on the cutting room floor includes a scene where Putin receives a phone call asking him for help sending a dying whale to the moon. Putin decides it’s a prank call from President George W. Bush. 2×2 landed in some hot water last year after another South Park episode earned them an official warning from Russian prosecutors saying that it promoted “hatred between religions.”  (The warning was cancelled last month.) In 2002, the channel NTV canceled its puppet show “Kukly” after the Kremlin complained about its mocking of Putin. Though the economy and media have been significantly deregulated since the Soviet era, television stations are still far from being able to broadcast what they please.  This latest censorship has lit up Russian blogs, one of the few completely unregulated forums where Russians can speak their minds. "It's stupid to cut things this way," wrote blogger Oleg Kuavev, arguing that it will simply attract more attention to the episode and channel. The Associate Press contributed to this report.

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