In August, Russian-language art website published two satirical ebooks spoofing Russia's new anti-gay propaganda" laws, Homosexuality for Kids and Lesbianism for Kids. Now, they along with their entire blogging platform, is apparently banned in Russia.
Animal New York reported this weekend that Looo.ch was added September 19th to Russia's Registry of Forbidden sites, Russia's internet "blacklist" that went into effect last November. The official site of Roskomnadzor, the agency that administers the blacklist, confirms Looo.ch is on there. In addition, Animal reprots, the entire Squarespace blogging platform has been banned in Russia.
The two gay "guidebooks" are full of explicit images and tongue-in-cheek pronouncements like "Sometimes, when you look at another boy, you suddenly feel happy and strange." But as Animal New York points out, "one look through them and you know they're not gay textbooks for children. If you don't, you are silly or tyrannical Kremlin minion."
Luckily for Looo.ch, being banned by one of America's geopolitical adversaries is a great way to get blogs to write about you here in the U.S.. So what is looo.ch? It's the online home of New York-based Ukranian artists Anatoli Ulyanov and Natasha Masharova. The site is a raw, intriguing collection of projects, many of which seem to be direct provocations of Russia's overzealous web censors, recently empowered by the blacklist law that allows sites to be blocked if they are deemed to contain "information dangerous for children." (Facebook has recently run afoul of the law a number of times and been briefly blacklisted.)
Looking at Looo.ch, it appears there could be any number of things that tripped Russia's censor. Its series pdf ebooks is particularly edgy: in addition to the fake homosexuality guides, there's a book on suicide and an interview with a 17-year-old Ukranian bodybuilder, whose cover features her topless, musclebound back to the camera.
We've got an email out to Squarespace, and will update with any details.
Update: Squarespace CEO confirmed the block in a statement:
"We can confirm that one of our IPs is banned in Russia because of content hosted on a user's site. We are working with both the Russian authorities as well as our customer to resolve this.