New Russian law puts roubles in the swear jar

BY Ruth Tam  May 6, 2014 at 3:49 PM EST
Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning profanity in media and the arts .  Photo by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning profanity in media and the arts . Photo by Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a ban on swearing in Russian films, television, theater, concerts and other live entertainment.

The law, slated to take effect on July 1, will fine individual offenders as much as 2,500 roubles ($70) and up to 50,000 roubles ($1,400) for organizations.

The legislation left open the definition of “foul language,” but the New Yorker speculates that that the ban seeks to eliminate all forms of mat (strong, obscene Russian profanity) of which there are four key elements.

Existing profanity in books, films and other media currently come with warning labels. To the Kremlin, this latest crackdown is a return to more “traditional values” but Western media outlets have described Putin’s latest move as a hardening of an anti-West, pro-Russia cultural conservatism.

Though some artists have spoken against the law, calling it “excessive,” others respond with mere indifference.

“I’ve lived awhile and laws have been different during this time, even money has changed, to my memory, four times,” said punk musician Sergei Shnurov in a recent interview with the newspaper Argumenty I Fakty. “Well, now they ban swearing, and tomorrow maybe they’ll allow it again. I treat these things calmly.”