Skip to main content

Russian law enforcement block an article on a news website for glamorizing heroin use

Meduza
Update: On December 20, Russia’s Interior Ministry announced that it has decided to block the article in question, ruling that the text promotes illegal drug use. Lesya Ryabtseva, a controversial former editor at the radio station Ekho Moskvy, reported on Telegram that she filed a complaint with Roskomnadzor against the article. Batenka.ru later deleted the article itself, publishing a statement saying that it has complied with orders from Roskomnadzor.

Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, has reportedly asked the Interior Ministry to review the legality of an article published on December 18 by the website Batenka, Da Vy Transformer (an eclectic media outlet whose name translates roughly to “Old Chap, You’re a Transformer”). The article in question, written by journalist Nina Abrosimova, is about an attractive woman who has supposedly lived “almost openly” as a functioning heroin addict for the past decade. The website calls the story “the first text in a long-running investigation into heroin’s place in modern Russia.”

According to Open Media, Roskomnadzor says the article violates Russian laws against propagating illegal drug use. If the Interior Ministry agrees, the agency will have the grounds to block the entire Batenka.ru website.

Russia’s federal censor isn’t the only one criticizing Batenka’s reporting. The website’s own former chief editor, Olga Beshley, complained on Facebook that the story features “poor journalism” that merely offers readers photographs of a “pretty woman” without offering the necessary expert commentary about heroin addiction or its prolonged effects.

In the fall of 2017, Roskomnadzor ordered Batenka.ru to delete an article titled “What It’s Like to Be a Drug Dealer.”