Russian Authorities Crack Down on Profanity in Movies

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The move, viewed as a step towards censorship, is likely to affect local releases.

MOSCOW – Russia's culture ministry and parliament are cracking down on the use of profane language in theater and film. The move is likely to primarily hit local releases.

The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's parliament, is preparing to adopt a law authored by Stanislav Govorukhin, a veteran director and president Vladimir Putin's chief of staff during his 2012 re-election campaign. It will be aimed at curbing the use of profane language in the arts. A year ago, a similar law restricting the use of profane language in the media was adopted. Both laws are viewed by many as steps towards censorship.

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Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, known for his conservative views, said that he supports the law and his agency will make sure that movies containing profanity will not obtain exhibition licenses.

"I believe that if a movie has a general release, it shouldn't have any profane language," Medinsky was quoted as saying by the news agency Interfax. "Our stance is that profanity shouldn't be present on [theater] stage or in the movies."

He added that movies containing profanity could only be screened at film festivals as screenings that don't require exhibition licenses.

The law is unlikely to affect Hollywood movies, though, as bad language in them has been traditionally translated into Russian using softer terms that are not considered profane.

However, local filmmakers would have to get rid of profanity to comply with the new law. If the law were in place today, such films as, for instance, the 2012 box office champion Dukhless (Soulless), wouldn't be able to obtain an exhibition license.