- The Swiss-Russian embassy threatened a newspaper with legal action over a photo it published.
- The Neue Zürcher Zeitung included a photo of Putin as a clown in an article about memes.
- Officials said the “insults and falsifications” went beyond freedom of expression and threatened to report it.
Russian officials threatened a Swiss newspaper with legal action after it published a photo of President Vladimir Putin as a clown.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper in Zurich published the article:Between Superheroes and Villains: The Power of Memes in the Ukraine War”. Discuss how viral images played a role in the discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The main image featured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as Putin’s next Iron Man with a clown nose and colorful face paint.
Its goal appears to have been to clarify the type of images used, rather than saying that the newspaper or its authors consider Putin a clown.
Russian Embassy in Switzerland Reply with message to the newspaper’s editor, describing himself as “extremely angry” at the photo.
The letter stated that freedom of expression was not an excuse to spread “insults and forgeries”.
It took a special insult to the rainbow colors on Putin’s face, indicating his hostility to LGBT people.
She also objected to what she called an article’s portrayal of Putin as a war criminal, a charge common among Ukrainians, human rights monitors and Western officials.
The letter ended with a reference to Switzerland’s defamation laws and said that officials “reserve the right… to apply to Swiss law enforcement agencies” for action over the photo.
“Lifelong food lover. Avid beeraholic. Zombie fanatic. Passionate travel practitioner.”