Russian ban on swearing comes into effect amid criticism

 

Russia's controversial ban on swear words in television broadcasts, plays and books came into effect on Tuesday in what critics have branded an attack on free speech.

Under the new legislation, signed-off by President Vladimir Putin in May, individuals who get caught swearing in public could be punished with a fine of up to 2,500 roubles (£42), while businesses could be fined 50,000 rubles ($1,460) for using foul language.

In addition, films with swear words will be banned from wide release and books must carry "obscenity warnings" on the cover. According to the Kremlin, the new law will help protect Russia's linguistic culture and heritage.

Last month, Russian newspaper Izvestiya said the country's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, plans to use a search programme to root out rude words in online articles and comments.

 

However, critics argue banning the use of swear words in public is a form of censorship and is reminiscent of Soviet-style conservatism, which often criticised the West's "decadence".

Mr Putin himself has often praised what he calls traditional Russian values and referred to the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority against the “genderless and infertile” Western tolerance.

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