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Journalist on Trial for Calling Putin “Russia’s Phallic Symbol”

Mos News | May 23 2006

Prosecutor’s Office has launched criminal proceedings against the editor in chief of a Russian Internet newapaper for calling President Putin “Russia’s phallic symbol”.

The article by Vladimir Rakhmankov was published on www.cursiv.ru following Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address, Kommersant daily reports. In his speech, Putin said demography was Russia’s most pressing issue and the citizens should seek to boost birth rates.

In his article called “Putin as Russia’s Phallic Symbol”, Rakhmankov argued that Putin’s influence on his audience was so great that even beasts in Russian zoos responded to his call to breed immediately.

“Actually, Putin does look like the country’s phallic symbol — in all senses. So why not secure the symbolism officially in his address… We can now start producing new souvenirs — the president’s head as a penis’s head” says the article, seen by its author as “harmless satire”.

However the prosecutor’s office regarded the article as an insult to the authorities. Investigators confiscated the edition’s computers and sealed the office. The daily’s stuff said Rakhmankov apartment had been searched too and his PC confiscated. On Monday the website stopped functioning allegedly due to debts to the Internet provider.

“I see nothing criminal about my article,” Rakhmankov said.

“Only obscene words can be seen as an insult.”

Although there has been no complaint from the Presidential Administration about the article, the Prosecutor’s Office insists on a linguistic expertise.

In March 2004, a young man was detained in Russia’s Kaliningrad for insulting the authorities after he stamped “Russia Without Putin” across a pack of 10-rouble banknotes. The man was acquitted due to the absence of the plaintiff — Vladimir Putin never arrived in court to defend his interests.




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