Russian authorities target South Park over Christian references

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Regional prosecutors in Russia have started legal proceedings against a TV station for broadcasting an episode of US cartoon comedy South Park.

A Christmas-themed episode angered evangelical Christians, who asked prosecutors to ban the programme.

Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics features Adolf Hitler singing Oh Tannenbaum, a medley performed by Jesus and Santa Claus and a song by a Christmas Poo.

Broadcaster 2×2 is accused by Basmanny prosecutors of showing extremist material.

The leader of the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, Konstantin Bendas, said:

“South Park is just one of many cartoons that need to be banned from open broadcast, as it insults the feelings of religious believers and incites religious and national hatred.”

In March the Consultative Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches in Russia sent a letter to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika accusing 2×2 of promoting “cruelty, violence, homosexual propaganda, religious hatred and intolerance.”

Earlier this year 2×2 pulled two of its shows, Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff, after receiving a warning from the government media watchdog that the shows promoted “a cult of violence and brutality.”

The channel, which also broadcasts The Simpsons, has built a cult following in Russia despite gaining just 1.9 percent of the audience share last month, according to recent ratings figures.