Vladimir Putin Also Plays Nanny, Bans Profanity in Russia’s Movies, TV

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 5 2014 5:46 PM

Vladimir Putin Outlaws Profanity in Movies, TV

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Under new law banning profanity, this is probably still ok.

Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin, channeling Tipper Gore, wants to make the Russian airwaves safe for children. On Monday, the Russian president took action, signing a law that would prohibit the use of swear words in movies, television, theaters and the media.

The law, which will go into effect on July 1, will impose fines on foul-mouthed offenders to the tune of $1,400 for organizations and $70 for individuals, the BBC reports. That’s not exactly a steep price to pay for a broadcaster, but that’s not really the point. Books, too, will be subject to the new law and those containing swear words will be required to have a warning label on the cover.

The law is not as wholesome as it may sound however. According to the BBC, “the law harks back to the conservatism of the Soviet period, when the Communist Party required artists and writers to avoid "decadent" Western fashions and to stick to traditional values.” Even more foreboding, is this Wall Street Journal characterization of the bill. “The legislation is the latest in a flurry of bills tightening control over freedom of speech and the Internet as well as toughening punishments for terrorism and extremism,” the Journal reports. “Under another law also signed Monday, bloggers with over 3,000 daily pages views will be subject to hefty fines for using profanities beginning in August, when they will be effectively equated with media outlets.”

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Russia imposed a similar swearing ban on Russian media outlets earlier this year. It also remains unclear which words will run afoul of the newly imposed decency standards. And cleaning up the country’s language may be easier said than done. “The law has been met with both criticism and shock, as swearing has been a vital component of Russian art, with some of the nation's best poets and playwrights using curse words prolifically, from classical Alexander Pushkin to contemporary post-modernist Vladimir Sorokin,” the Moscow Times reports.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.