South Park Christmas Under Fire in Russia

A nearly 10-year old Christmas episode of “South Park” could be banned by prosecutors in Russia. The US series is aimed at adults and features a group of nine-year-olds in a Colorado ski town.

It has courted controversy from its 1997 debut, parodying celebrities, politicians, religion, gay marriage and Saddam Hussein.

Basmanny regional prosecutors office spokeswoman Valentina Titova said investigators have filed a motion after an episode was broadcast on Moscow television station 2×2 in January.

They said it “bore signs of extremist activity”.

South Park has won two Emmy Awards and was first shown on the US Comedy Central network.

It is dubbed into Russian and rebroadcast on local networks, including 2×2, a channel which shows animated series in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith had asked prosecutors to ban South Park after it said 20 experts had studied the show for its effect on young viewers.

The group’s leader Konstantin Bendas said: “Our complaint is against a lot of cartoons, but this one was from South Park season three, episode 15.”

The episode, called Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics, first aired in December, 1999, and features the cast singing Christmas carols.

“It’s one thing if they are on cable TV and viewers pay money and make a conscious choice. But young children should not be able to turn on the TV after school and watch this. They need to be defended,” Mr Bendas said.

Russia passed a 2006 law widening the definition of extremism to include “the abasement of national dignity” and “inciting religious and national hatred” – which backers say was needed to stem a wave of violence aimed at ethnic minorities.

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