Russian State TV Digitally (and Messily) Erases Government Critics from the Airwaves

Take a look at the above picture. Notice anything strange? Those legs and that hand next to the guy with the microphone belong to a critic of Vladamir Putin named Mikhail G. Delyagin. The rest of him? It's been digitally erased from the entire broadcast, a result of his being placed on a "stop list" of critics of the Russian government and Prime Minister Putin.

Using digital manipulation to literally erase any critic of the administration is a pretty great way to stifle any kind of dissent, and it's pretty easy when you're in control of the national networks. It's also scary, reminiscent of the "memory holes" from 1984 and a startling sign of an oppressive government.

It's not just politicians and talk shows that are affected, either.

Televizor, a rock group whose name means TV set, had its booking on a St. Petersburg station cancelled in April, after its members took part in an Other Russia demonstration.

When some actors cracked a few mild jokes about Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev at Russia's equivalent of the Academy Awards in March, they were expunged from the telecast.

Indeed, political humour in general has been exiled from TV. One of the nation's most popular satirists, Viktor A. Shenderovich, once had a show that featured puppet caricatures of Russian leaders, including Mr. Putin. It was canceled in Mr. Putin's first term, and Mr. Shenderovich has been all but barred from TV.

It's a pretty scary reminder that while we usually see technology as fun and convenient, a neat diversion from our daily lives, new digital video editing tech allows for some pretty horrible things to take place. [NY Times]