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Russian authorities have banned an image featuring President Vladamir Putin wearing makeup that hints at him being gay.
The image, which depicts Putin’s face with a heavy coating of blush, eyeshadow and lipstick, is frequently used by his critics to drag him. It’s a common sight at protests, particularly LGBTQ rights rallies. Putin works hard to present himself as an ultra-manly tough guy and his administration is fiercely homophobic, so the picture really hits where it hurts.
But now, Putin’s critics may have to discontinue their use of the image or face serious consequences. According to Radio Free Europe, Russia has officially banned the picture, saying it hints at Putin having an “alleged nonstandard sexual orientation.” It also includes language frequently used to insult gay men.
The image is now included in the Russian Justice Ministry’s list of banned “extremist materials,” after the results of a 2016 court case.
Radio Free Europe explains:
The ruling stemmed from a criminal case against a man named Aleksandr Tsvetkov, who was accused of stoking hate speech by posting the photograph of Putin in makeup on the popular Russian social-networking site Vkontakte.
Tsvetkov was also charged in connection with other images, including openly racist and anti-immigrant ones, posted on his Vkontakte account, which was later suspended.
The ban is a blow to supporters of free speech and enemies of Putin everywhere.
However, the ban appears to only apply to that one image of painted Putin. As far as we know, this image of a naked Putin spooning with a pregnant Donald Trump is still legal. And this image of Trump and Putin sharing a tender kiss hasn’t been banned yet either. And there are many, many more dissatisfied Russians with image manipulation software who are more than happy to add mascara on their nation’s leader.