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State Duma imposes high fines for swear words in mass media

March 15, 2013, 21:50 UTC+3
Duma, the lower house of parliament, adopted in the second reading on Friday a bill imposing fines up to 200,000 roubles
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Photo ITAR-TASS

Photo ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, March 15 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, adopted in the second reading on Friday a bill imposing fines up to 200,000 roubles (for legal entities) for profane words in the mass media.

The fines have remained unchanged as compared to those in the bill adopted in the first reading: individuals will have to pay 2,000-3,000 roubles (U.S. $1=RUB 30.76), officials, from 5,000 to 20,000 rubles, and legal entities from 20,000 to 200,000 rubles for using profanity-laden language in the media.

Amendments to the law ‘On Mass Media’ impose a ban on “distributing profanity-laden materials by using the mass media for this purpose.”

“This won't pose any problem for the civilized media and educated reporters as they never use foul language,” said Vice Speaker of the State Duma Sergei Zheleznyak. “But those who will find swear words allowable for themselves will pay fines.”

The deputy secretary of the United Russia General Council also said that “after several fines for this offence are imposed, a mass media outlet will get a warning.”

“I hope these measures will force the media outlets lacking inner culture to stop swearing,” Zheleznyak said.

“We believe swear words have nothing in common with the freedom of speech or democracy achievements,” the politician said with confidence. “And we must rid our media of the phenomenon as shameful as foul language.”

The authors of the bill have won support of “two thirds of our voters and we are following our citizens’ wishes while endorsing this bill,” he said.

“The Code of Administrative Offences imposes a ban on swearing in public for quite a number of years and it envisions fines for the offence,” the vice-speaker said. “However, the paradox was in the fact that there existed no ban on swearing in the media.”

“We will put into practice the experience gained from the ban on swearing in public and will rely on relevant linguistic studies,” Zheleznyak said. “Certainly, there is no sense in listing in the law the words that we believe are inadmissible in the media as well as in any cultured society.”

Earlier, Dmitry Vyatkin, of the United Russia party, one of the bill’s co-authors, said it would be lawyers’ job to decide in each particular case whether certain words or expressions used by the media are foul or not.

“They will be examined as there are special dictionaries and research studies,” Vyatkin added.

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