Cartoon ban stirs controversy in Russia

A government decision to ban two cartoon shows on a Russian TV-channel has caused widespread debate. While some see the decision to clamp down on violence on TV as a defence of taste and decency, others see it as unnecessary censorship.

The Happy Tree Friends are a kind of extreme Tom and Jerry, aimed at young adults and heavy on stylised violence. It's a cult classic that's shown in more than 50 countries.

The Two by Two station that airs the show pulled it and another show after receiving an official government warning

The controversy began with a complaint from Russia's protestant church. One of its top officials says the station is perverting the morals of the nation. And they want the station closed down.

“Someone has to stop the violence. Television is a tool shaping the minds and the future of our children,” Konstantin Bendas from the Union of Evangelical Christians said.

However the regulator – despite upholding the complaint says that closing TV stations is not on their agenda.

Nevertheless for Two by Two this is a serious issue. Their CEO says the channel has had thousands of messages of support and thinks the ban is an insult to the intelligence of viewers and that the complaints are unwarranted.

So for now Russian viewers have seen the last of the Happy Tree friends on their televisions. And the station is carefully scrutinising its output to avoid falling foul of the law again.