Chechen Police Declare Meme Encyclopedia ‘Extremist’

MOSCOW, January 15 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – In a show of disregard for the Internet’s postmodern irony, Chechen police demanded on Tuesday to block access nationwide to a humorous Russian encyclopedia of online culture accused of “extremism.”

Police lumped together with an online resource on Islamic insurgency, ImamTV, saying in a statement that both are guilty of hatemongering and promoting suicide and drug abuse.

The wiki-based encyclopedia Lurkmore comprises more than 6,000 user-generated articles covering all sorts of Internet phenomena, from imageboards to “termorectal cryptoanalyzer,” as well as web culture luminaries such as bloggers.

Both websites were reported to prosecutors, who are expected to seek a court ban on them, police said on their website.

“That was a complete surprise to us,” Lurkmore co-founder Dmitry Khomak told RIA Novosti in an e-mailed comment. “This thing about a nationwide ban is complete nonsense.”

Online promotion of suicide, illegal drugs and child abuse is subject to an extrajudicial ban in Russia according to a controversial law enacted in November. Online publications can also be cited or banned for extremism on a court order.

The relatively obscure ImamTV, launched in 2004 and reporting efforts of jihad supporters across the volatile North Caucasus, announced earlier this month that it is ceasing operations., however, was up and running as of this article’s publication. Established in 2007 as an encyclopedia of Internet memes, Lurkmore gradually expanded to touch on various offline topics, including suicide and drug use, which are covered in an acrid and irony-ridden style typical of online conversations.

Russia’s internet watchdog, Roskomnadzor, forced Lurkmore in November to delete its article on suicide, though extensive articles on “[mind-altering] substances” and pedophilia remain accessible.

Chechen authorities are known for their regulative zeal. Articles and practices already prohibited or faced with a ban in the republic include hookahs, energy drinks, alcohol, short skirts, cell phones in schools and laser pointers.

Chechnya also has a track record of outright censorship, banning a volume of a print encyclopedia describing the republic, campaigning for closure of radical Islamist websites and declaring the notorious anti-Islam film “Innocence of the Muslims” extremist.

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