Vladimir Putin Bans Cursing in Art


Vladimir Putin is telling artists and filmmakers to wash their mouths out with soap—or pay the price. A law that went into effect on Tuesday mandates that creatives whose work includes obscene language pay fines up to 2,500 rubles ($72) for individuals and up to 50,000 rubles ($1,460) for businesses, according to the AFP.

Like other pieces of controversial legislation approved by the Kremlin in recent months—principle among them Russia’s notorious homosexual propaganda law—just what constitutes an offense is left remarkably vague.

The report suggests that the legislation is directed at eradicating “mat,” the complex vocabulary of swear words, which is most readily associated with Russia’s criminal underworld and its military. Article 20.1.1 of the Offenses Code of Russia already bans “mat” in public use, but is said to be sparingly enforced.

Like the homosexual propaganda law, due to the vague codification, which doesn’t specify which words count as curses, the law could seemingly be applied to any artwork, film, theater performance, or other cultural act that falls afoul of officials’ sensibilities. It also allows for any movies that are deemed obscene from being granted distribution licenses in the country.

The law is viewed as the latest step in Putin’s crusade to resurrect a conservative Soviet identity and bolster a broad base of his electorate, which hankers for days before the union’s collapse.


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