clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Russian court banned an anti-Putin video. So activists put it on Pornhub.

Yes, you read that right.

Demonstrators Protest Putin Visit
A bare-breasted Femen protester demonstrates against the scheduled visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin moments before she was detained by police near the Parliament building on February 17, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russia has a pretty intense Internet censorship campaign, meant to control information to the public so that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda can proceed unabated. That’s harmful for those who disagree with his leadership, like anti-Putin blogger Alexei Navalny, who leads an anti-corruption movement in the country.

And it means that Navalny and his fans have to get creative about how to get their message out. In this case, they’ve turned to Pornhub. Yes, you read that right: Pornhub, the famous US pornography site.

Because Pornhub is unblocked in Russia, someone uploaded a recent documentary by Navalny to the site, where assuredly many people will see it. The video claims many of Russia’s top officials are corrupt, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Also, the video, now with a NSFW, genre-appropriate title, was banned in Russia by a court on Wednesday, forcing Navalny to take it down.

In an interview with Vox, Pornhub vice president Corey Price explained that the site is “a video platform which functions very much like YouTube, in that users are able to upload their own videos, provided they have an account and that the content adheres to our [terms of service].”

“We have no political stance on Putin, or the Russian government in general,” he continued, “but we are very happy to have been unblocked in Russia so that we can continue to entertain our fans there.”

Even so, this is undoubtedly an odd and funny situation. However, Russia’s corruption issues are no laughing matter.

This is another battle in the anti-corruption fight in Russia

Navalny is trying to do something noble with his video, regardless of which venue hosts it. He plans to run for president next year against Putin in order to amplify his message of the problems in Russia. In the meantime, he’s been very successful in getting under Putin’s skin by leading thousands of Russians in anti-corruption protests throughout the country.

Navalny’s protests are some of the largest demonstrations seen in Russia in years. And, naturally, Moscow is unhappy about it. In March, Russian authorities arrested around 500 people, including Navalny, for disturbing the peace.

But Navalny’s effort has been mildly successful. While corruption is likely to continue apace, there’s at least an organized movement against it now, and it has brought the issue into Russia’s mainstream. Still, Russia’s corruption — certainly aided by Putin — will play a part in ensuring Navalny won’t win the presidency.

In fact, even Putin himself said “corruption is indeed a serious problem” in Russia during a gathering of leaders whose countries care about the Arctic region in March. However, it’s highly likely that he was paying lip service to the issue instead of actually caring about the corruption problem. After all, Putin has benefited from corruption, helping him become the most powerful man in the country.

In the meantime, the video will continue to get more viewers to add to its already 21 million-strong viewership. If anything, it will guarantee Navalny a more ... diverse ... following once the election rolls around.