'South Park' Episode Called Extremist

Prosecutors on Monday fired a broadside against 2x2 television, accusing the cartoon network of promoting extremism with an episode of the iconoclastic U.S. cartoon "South Park" and violating children's rights by airing shows such as "The Simpsons" and "The Family Guy."

The City Prosecutors Office said in a statement that a commission of experts had determined that the South Park episode "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics" was extremist in nature because it promotes "hatred between religions."

The scatological episode features Christmas carols performed by the characters and hosted by Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.

Prosecutors have asked the Basmanny District Court to rule that the episode encourages extremism.

It was unclear what further steps would be taken against 2x2 should the court rule in favor of the prosecutors. Repeated calls to the City Prosecutors Office for comment went unanswered Monday.

The director of the network, Roman Sarkisov, disputed the findings of the commission's report, which was issued last month.

"I don't think there's any extremism in South Park, which is shown all around the world," Sarkisov said.

In a separate statement Monday, the Prosecutor General's Office said numerous cartoons aired on 2x2, including The Simpsons and The Family Guy, were found to be unsuitable for children.

The shows "do not comply with legislation on protecting the moral and psychological development of children," the statement said. Prosecutors have asked the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service to "take measures" on the network's content, it said.

Yevgeny Strelchik, a spokesman for the service, said an investigation would be opened after the service receives the request from prosecutors and that the network could receive a warning.

In March, the 2x2 received a warning from the service for showing the cartoons "Happy Tree Friends" and "The Adventures of Big Jeff." It quickly pulled them. Under media laws, two warnings from the service can result in a media outlet losing its license.

Sarkisov said the condemnation of the cartoons was due to a misperception in Russia that cartoons are only for children.

"We are working for adults," he said. "In Russia, people still think that animation is aimed only at children."

Sarkisov also speculated that the channel's legal troubles could be linked to business. "Someone is trying to get our frequency," he said.