On Monday (May 5) Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that will impose fines on creators or promoters of books, music, theater performances, and films that contain profanity. In addition, existing works that contain profanity will have to carry warning labels. This law takes effect July 1; a similar law that affects bloggers with more than 3,000 daily page views will take effect in August. Although the definition of “foul language” is not made clear, a panel of experts can be called in to determine if a particular word qualifies as profanity.
What’s the Big Idea?
The laws represent the latest move in what’s seen as an attempt by the Kremlin to restrict freedom of expression both online and elsewhere. Swearing has a long and storied history in Russia, and the language itself contains a wide range of colorful words. Perhaps it’s because of that tradition that certain artists, such as punk singer Sergei Shnurov, aren’t too worried: “I think that no one will have any kinds of problems over this…[N]ow they ban swearing, and tomorrow maybe they’ll allow it again. I treat these things calmly.”