Russia Bans Curse Words In Books, Films, At The Theater... Basically Everywhere, So Thanks Putin!
How much is a curse word worth in Russia? Under Putin's new rules, probably more than what's in your wallet. The Russian president passed a law Monday that outlaws cursing in films and during arts, entertainment and cultural events. The law also places strict regulation on the distribution of books, movies and CDs with swear words; those items must be placed in a sealed container with the words "Contains obscene language," CNN reports.
The new law, which goes into effect July 1, will fine businesses and organizations up to 50,000 roubles, or $1,400, for using the restricted words. Individual offenders may face a fine up to 2,500 roubles, or $70. Distributors and traders who fail to place the proper warning on their items will also be at risk for losing their licenses.
These restrictions are just the latest attempt at restricting freedom of speech and expression in Russia under Putin's reign. Since he assumed office, Putin has been pushing a conservative agenda that is continually criticized by both international groups and his own citizens. Here are some of the other laws that have progressive Russians speaking out.
1. The "No Gay Propaganda" Law
In June 2013, Putin passed a measure outlawing the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships." Made with the intent to "protect" minors from "non-traditional sexual attitudes" and the like, the law bans any speech, materials or images that depict or reference gay relationships. Anyone who's caught "promoting" LGBTQ lifestyles can receive a fine up to up to one million rubles, or even 15 days in jail.
Many LGBTQ activists in Russia and across the world spoke out against the inane law, especially as the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics arrived. The law garnered even more attention from the West after openly gay figure skater and current NBC correspondent Johnny Weir stated he would be holding his tongue about the law while reporting at the games, even though he would be at risk.
2. The Anti-Blasphemy Law
Also passed in 2013, the so-called anti-blasphemy law bars "sacrilegious acts" on the grounds of Christian property, mandates prison time for desecration of holy symbol or religious texts, and fines or imprisons those who are found guilty of offending religious feelings. The law was put into place following the arrests of three members from the punk-rock collective Pussy Riot, who were imprisoned for hooliganism after staging a performance at a Moscow cathedral. The songs performed were critical of Putin's actions as president.
Earlier this year, more than 200 authors, including Salmon Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, signed an open letter criticizing the law, stating it would place writers and journalists at risk.
3. The Crackdown On NGOs and Organizations
According to a 2013 report from Amnesty International, Putin has been placing pressure on NGOs and other organizations involved in political activities. The Russian government conducted inspections on thousands of NGOs across the country, forcing numerous advocacy groups to register as "foreign agents" — a term that's meant to stigmatize these groups. Many of the organizations targeted were LGBTQ and women centers, as well as human rights and health care groups.
Under the "foreign agents" law, many groups have already been fined thousands of rubles for their work. The LGBT film festival Side by Side, for instance, was fined 500,000 rubles, or $15,500, for publishing a brochure titled "The International LGBT Movement: from Local Practices to Global Politics." Meanwhile, the LGBT organization Coming Out was penalized for receiving foreign funds for alleged political activity.