Moscow: comedian convicted for insulting Russians

Idrak Mirzalizade, a Belarusian comedian, has been sentenced to ten days in jail in Moscow, declared an "undesirable person" and expelled from Russia for life. The judges ruled that he had insulted Russians as an ethnic group on a TV talk show when he used crude words to joke about non-Slavs facing discrimination when trying to rent apartments.

Open/close all quotes (RO) /

Only mocking the majority is punished

Jokes and discrimination are only tolerated in Russia when they target minorities, comments:

“Much more serious [than the comedian's joke] is the attitude of many Russians towards minorities, especially those from the Caucasus region. In extreme cases, there has been violence here, up to and including murders in some Russian cities in the 2000s. People of colour are also among the victims. ... In other words, political incorrectness is the rule in Russia. With one exception: daring to mock the ethnicity of the majority is not only not tolerated, but is actually a criminal offence that can lead to the expulsion of foreigners.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Having a comedy police force is no joke

Even such a tasteless joke - featuring a faeces-stained mattress from a former tenant - should not be punished by the authorities, Echo of Moscow warns:

“Making bad jokes is not a crime. You can't prosecute someone for a lack of humour or bad taste. Otherwise we would have to accept the idea that the state and the police have a higher understanding of what is funny and what is not. And uniform wearers become the main moral authority for intellectual matters. We'll be drawing up lists of what one is allowed to joke about and what one is not next. ... Russia is a country for the disgruntled. Mirzalizade isn't the first one to say that; we've known it ourselves for a long time. If you ban comedy - even bad comedy - the biggest stupidities will be committed with a serious face.”