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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bill to Ban Bad Words Scrapped

The Federation Council on Wednesday rejected a bill banning the use of profanity and foreign words in official situations as too vague and called for a joint commission to be set up with the State Duma to rewrite the legislation.

"If this bill is enacted, about 30 articles of the Russian Constitution would have to be amended," Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

The bill, which would have established Russian as the state language, outlawed the use of "vernacular, disdainful or foul" language unless the words were used as a form of artistic expression. It also forbade foreign words whenever a commonly acceptable Russian equivalent could be found and stated Russian was to be used in all official situations -- from politicians' speeches and television news broadcasts to correspondence between private firms.

The bill did not contain any specific penalties for violators.

Sergei Shcheblygin, a senator on the Federation Council's culture committee, said a language law was necessary but the current version was not up to par.

"Who is going to check whether this or that is a form of artistic expression?" he said.

Senators voted down the legislation 126-7 with 10 abstentions.

The Duma overwhelmingly passed the bill 248-37 last week.

Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said he was not surprised by the large discrepancy between the votes in the Duma and Federation Council, which are both effectively controlled by the Kremlin.

He said Wednesday's rejection was an example of a subtle Kremlin game in which the executive branch appeases the public's conservative sentiments by getting a bill approved in the high-profile Duma and then thrown out by the little-watched Federation Council. The rejection appeases liberals and Western public opinion, he said.

"Thus, the large conservative electorate thinks there is a language law, and serious political parties, foreign observers and the highly educated public know there isn't," Ryabov said.