This time they didn't kill Kenny, they killed Putin.
"2x2," a Russian TV channel that airs the edgy, adult oriented cartoon South Park, admitted that a clip mocking Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was "absent." The blatant censorship has drawn the ire of Russia's free speech bloggers.
While this is the third time the edited episode from 2005 has aired, spokesman Andrei Andreyev told the Associated Press, via e-mail, that "the given scene in this version was absent." He declined to mention why the scene was cut.
Yevgeny Strelchik, a spokesman for the Russian broadcast regulator, Rosskomnadzor said he knew nothing about the cut scene.
"We have never interfered with editorial decisions," he said.
In the lost scene, Putin, the Russian president at the time, was despersate to fix the economy and jumped at the chance to send another "rich american" to space. Kyle, one of the main chatracters on the show, calls Putin and balked at Putin's price tag of $20 million. After Kyle tried appealing to Putin's softer side, explainig that the trip was for a whale they thought was from the moon, Putin became infuriated. He cursed out George Bush for prank calling him yet again and slammed the phone down.
The censored episode was the latest example of a trend put in place by the Kremlin to stamp out public mockery of officials.
It's a far cry from the days after the fall of the Soviet Union, where restricitons on information and news were loosened, which included taking public shots at Russian figureheads. Putin, who's been instrumental in bringing economic stability to Russia, has been maligned for his methods, which border on authoritarian.
The Channel NTV was forced to pull its satirical puppet show, "Kukly" after the Kremlin complained the show took too many shots at Putin.
Bloggers took their frustration to cyber space as they vented their anger on Russia's most popular blogging service, Live Journal.
Oleg Kuveav, a blogger and online animated filmmaker, wrote on his web site, "It's stupid to cut things this way," because more attention is drawn to the cut scene.
It's clear if the decision to censor the episode came from the network or Russian officials.