Russia’s rich tradition of vulgar slang has long been a matter of pride for the country’s authors and poets. Fyodor Dostoevsky once claimed a Russian could express his entire range of feelings with the swearword for the male sexual organ.
Yet a new ban on explicit language in public performances means that some of the country’s best-known directors, musicians and actors could face fines, and classic works of literature and cinema could be sold in special packaging with a warning sticker.
The Russian parliament lower house has passed a law banning foul language in public performances, including film showings, plays and concerts. Audio, video and books containing swearwords are required to be sold in special packaging, featuring an explicit language warning.
The fines range from 2,500 rubles (US$69) for ordinary citizens to 100,000 rubles for businesses. Repeat offenses will lead to a suspension of up to one year for those who violate in an official capacity, or a 90-day cessation of activities for commercial enterprises.
The legislation would pose problems for a wide number of authors, directors and performers.
Rock star Yuri Shevchuk warned that the legislation was part of a growing conservative trend in Russia, which he said could “devolve into a dark age.”
Writer Sergei Shargunov said: “So now let’s ban Pushkin, Yesenin, Mayakovsky?” he asked.
The works of novelists Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Sergei Dovlatov also contain swearing.