Russia’s Vimpelcom fined for broadcasting ‘LGBT movie’ without 18+ rating -agencies

(Reuters) – Russian mobile and streaming service operator Vimpelcom was fined on Wednesday for failing to put an 18+ age rating on a movie referencing LGBT relationships, Russian news agencies reported from a Moscow courtroom.

Russia toughened its anti-LGBT laws last year, allowing authorities to fine any individual or organisation found to have promoted homosexuality in public, online, or in films, books or advertising.

Vimpelcom was fined 1 million roubles ($10,401) for distributing the film “Little Italy”, which contains LGBT scenes, without an 18+ label, the RIA news agency reported.

Kinopoisk, owned by tech giant Yandex and streaming site Ivi, have been fined for the same offence in recent weeks.

Vimpelcom, which provides mobile services under the Beeline brand and operates streaming site Beeline TV in Russia, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The company did not acknowledge guilt, RIA reported, citing its representative in court. Vimpelcom’s lawyer said that Beeline TV was available through a subscription.

“Each subscriber knows what they are choosing and watching, there is no widespread access,” the lawyer was quoted as saying.

Russian lawmakers argue that Russia’s laws are necessary to protect society from what they see as decadent “Western values”.

Rights groups say the laws are designed to outlaw representations of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) in public life.

($1 = 96.1450 roubles)

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Alexander Marrow and Gareth Jones)