Russia Censors 'Deadpool' Comic Book for Promoting Nazi Extremism

The popular Deadpool franchise may bring laughter and entertainment to audiences around the world, but government censors in Russia were less than impressed with a specific chapter of a comic book installment of the superhero saga, alleging it promoted extremism.

In the chapter of concern in Deadpool Max, set to be released on January 18 in the country, the iconic red-and-black clad superhero faces off with white supremacist villain Zemo, who regularly spouts overtly anti-Semitic and racist remarks, Radio Free Europe reported Tuesday. Among other things, Zemo praises the Holocaust as well as historic Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and the Klu Klux Klan. Author David Lapham included a note following the chapter, cautioning readers that such comments should not be viewed positively. "I know you're all savvy readers who get sarcasm and satire," he wrote.

Apparently this disclaimer wasn't adequate for Russian censors. They told publishers they had two choices: either to not publish the book or to remove the entire chapter.

Meanwhile in Russia, #Deadpool comic book censored over “Nazi propaganda”

— The Moscow Times (@MoscowTimes) January 15, 2019

"In Russian legal terms, even satire can be treated as propaganda," Mikhail Bogdanov, director of the book's publisher Komilfo, told Radio Free Europe. "In our country, there are certain legal lines that you can't cross," he explained. The company decided to publish the book without the chapter.

Komilfo's chief editor Roman Dmitrovsky said censors had "acknowledged that the villain's image is a caricature and the work is a satire, but said that the Holocaust, Nazism and racism cannot be the subjects of satire and humor," according to The Moscow Times.

Yury Kanner of the Russian Jewish Congress, however, criticized the decision to censor the comic book. "We should not be prudes in the fine question of humor," he told business daily Kommersant, arguing that all kinds of jokes should be acceptable.

Beyond Deadpool Max, strict censorship and "propaganda" laws in Russia have targeted individuals criticizing religion and LGBTQ activists.

Some in Russia who have posted memes online deemed to be blasphemous or mocking Christianity have been detained and jailed. In one case, 19-year-old Daniil Markin was charged after he posted a meme comparing Game of Thrones character Jon Snow to Jesus Christ.

#Russia ‘gay propaganda’ law stops mental health providers from counseling children who have questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, and more in today's Daily Brief

— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) December 12, 2018

Since 2013, Russia has also implemented a so-called "gay propaganda law," which places restraints on portrayals of LGBTQ relationships as equal to heterosexual unions. Although it is not illegal to be gay in Russia, activists have argued the law has had a negative impact on the country.

"Russia's 'gay propaganda' law is harming youth by cutting them off from vital information," Michael Garcia Bochenek, senior children's rights counsel at Human Rights Watch, said in a December statement released in conjunction with a report on the law's impact. "And amid the intense social hostility surrounding LGBT people in Russia, the law stops mental health providers from counseling children who have questions about sexual orientation and gender identity," he warned.