Russia Outlaws Profanity

It is now illegal to use profanity in entertainment in Russia:

(CNN) – Thinking about making a film? Better leave out the foul language if you want it to be seen in Russia. The same goes for plays. Even rock stars will need to leave their potty mouths at home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law Monday that bans swearing at arts, cultural and entertainment events in the country.

Any new film containing obscene language won’t be granted a distribution certificate, so there’s no chance of seeing it at the movie theater.

And copies of books, CDs or films containing swearing can only be distributed in a sealed package labeled “Contains obscene language,” a Kremlin statement said.

According to state news agency ITAR-Tass, individuals caught using foul language face a fine of up to $70, while officials can be fined up to $40 and businesses nearly $1,400. They face a higher fine and a three-month suspension of business for repeated offenses.

Determination of what counts as profane language will be done through “an independent examination,” the news agency said.

According to the Kremlin, the legislation “bans the use of obscene language when ensuring the rights of Russian citizens to the use of the state language, and protecting and developing language culture.”

The law could come into effect as soon as July 1, ITAR-Tass said, but it doesn’t apply to cultural and artistic works that have already been issued.

The fact that the determination of what is and is not “profane” language is left undefined seems significant since, obviously, such a law could be used to target dissidents and critics of the regime.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. John Burgess says:

    Oh, yeah… Russia, the land of mat. Like that’s going to work.

    It was supposedly outlawed in 2003, Wikipedia tells us. The law seems to have been rather ineffective.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Damn right. There’s too much !@#$%^ profanity these days.

  3. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    “Back in the U.S.S.R., you don’t know how lucky you are, boy…”

  4. Franklin says:

    Let me guess … Pussy Riot is profane?

  5. Tillman says:

    Bozhe moĭ!

  6. I’m sure Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden will be around shortly to remind us what a freedom loving place Russia is.