F-Word Ban Proposed for Russian Media

Expletives in print or on air in Russia may soon come with a price tag of up to 200,000 rubles ($6,400) attached, according to a new draft bill introduced in the Russian State Duma.

The legislative amendment introducing fines for dirty language in the media is aimed at protecting minors, the bill’s co-author Sergei Zheleznyak, a State Duma deputy with the ruling United Russia, said on Wednesday.

The media would even be held responsible for swearwords in the comments readers leave on their websites, Zheleznyak said, Gazeta.ru reported.

No timeframe for the bill’s review was announced so far.

Swearing in public is currently an administrative offense in Russia, but the media were free to cite the F-word until recently. This would change when a controversial bill on protecting minors from “harmful information” comes into effect in November, requiring media outlets to introduce age warnings; however, the 18+ tag still allows them to cite or use obscene language.

The media community criticized the minors protection law as vaguely worded and liable to abuse, including for censorship purposes. Zheleznyak’s draft bill caused a similar reaction, according to Gazeta.ru, which cited several industry professionals who noted that filtering readers’ comments for verbal abuse is a near impossibility.


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