A viral meme appears to have hurt poor Russian President Vladimir Putin’s very sensitive feelings.
Last week, the Russian justice ministry added an image of Putin as a gay clown to its list of banned extremist images. The government now has a list of over 4,000 images they consider “extremist propaganda,” including, apparently, memes of clowns.
The meme emerged in 2013 after Russia began to crack down on the LGBTQ community and banned sharing “nontraditional sexual relations propaganda” with children.
The meme has exploded in recent years as the government aggressively policed free speech and sexual minorities.
There are now multiple variations of the meme, and it’s unclear which one specifically is banned.
It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown, but for now it’s still legal here. Share away b4 Trump outlaws it too. pic.twitter.com/bsLwnuQOd0
— A Once Great Nation (@USARedOrchestra) April 5, 2017
The ministry banned the image because it suggested that Putin suffered from an “alleged nonstandard sexual orientation” (aka is gay). According to Radio Free Europe, the ministry based its ruling on the criminal case of Aleksandr Tsvetkov, who was accused of sharing hate speech by posting gay Putin memes on Vkontakte, a Russian social networking site.
He was sent to psychiatric care after his trial, so yea, things are bleak in Russia.