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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deputies Move to Clean Up Language

Saying they are trying to protect the Russian language from an assault of foreign words, State Duma deputies tentatively approved a bill on Friday that would bar the use in official settings of profanity, slang and foreign words not included in Russian dictionaries.

The legislation, which was passed in a first reading, would apply to language used by officials and in official documents as well as in the media and advertising. No penalties are envisioned for those who break the rules.

"For each foreign word we have a nice Russian equivalent," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who heads the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and has used profanity and slang in official settings in the past, Interfax reported.

"Why do we say 'summit' when there is the great Russian term 'vstrecha v verkhakh'?" Zhirinovsky said, using a phrase that can be loosely translated as "summit conference."

Communist Deputy Yelena Drapeko, co-head of a Duma group that submitted the bill after it reworked a previously rejected version, said that the word "magazin," once borrowed from French, could be used while "shop" could not, Kommersant reported.

Also, the word "speaker" in reference to the speakers of the Duma and Federation Council would be replaced with the phrase "chairman of the chamber of the legislative assembly."

Drapeko stressed that ordinary people would be able to use whatever words they wish and that the legislation would refer only to "the relations of the state with the society." She did not elaborate.

Linguists said the legislation was contentious because contemporary language changes quickly as foreign words that penetrate it become widely used.

"A foreign word may not be listed in the dictionary now, but it might appear in the next edition of the dictionary," said Larisa Shostakova, a leading scholar with the Academy of Sciences' Russian Language Institute, Kommersant reported.