Russian news site warned for ‘showing rape of minor’
One of Russia's best known news sites on Thursday defended its decision to post a shocking video of a minor being raped by adolescents, despite receiving a warning from the press watchdog.
Fontanka.ru, the leading online newspaper in the former capital Saint Petersburg, said it had simply wanted to draw attention to the horror of the incident where the 12-year-old is raped by a group of peers with a spade handle.
The group, aged 12-14, carried out the rape after the boy lost the money they had given him to buy them beer. The footage was recorded by the group on their mobile phones and then leaked to Fontanka.ru.
Fontanka.ru posted the video of the episode earlier this week but has now withdrawn the footage after receiving a warning from the federal media watchdog about “propagating violence and cruelty”.
The site has also been rebuked by Saint Petersburg’s media committee as well as the local child protection envoy.
“Without the video, the article would have had no effect and would have been forgotten very quickly,” the site’s editor-in-chief Yevgeny Vyshenkov told AFP, saying Fontanka.ru had obtained the footage through its sources.
“Our readers fall into two groups. I understand those who criticise us but I am also with the others who, like me, believe that life must change through shock,” he said.
“The video lasted nine seconds and it is not possibly to identify anyone,” he added.
Users of Fontanka.ru, which is avidly read in a city that prides itself on having a distinct identity from the federal capital Moscow, were split on the issue.
“This is ridiculous. There is no ethical justification for Fontanka publishing this video,” one blogger, named as navigator, said in a posting on the website.
Others took the different view. “It’s clear that we are talking about this story precisely because of the video,” said blogger citata.
Widely regarded as Russia’s most beautiful city, Saint Petersburg also has an unwanted reputation for narcotics and sexual crimes.