News

Russia launches ‘swear bot’ to squash foul mouths

Russia launches ‘swear bot’ to squash foul mouths

CURSE-CRUSHING ROBOT:The "swear-bot" faces a huge task as Russian is known for the breadth and inventiveness of its obscene vocabulary. Photo: clipart.com

By Alessandra Prentice

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian ban on swearing in films, plays and books came into force on Tuesday, a policy designed to appeal to conservatives but which Vladimir Putin’s critics condemned as a further move against free speech.

Under the legislation that was passed in May, films containing “foul language” will be banned from wide release and books with swear words will have to be sold in sealed packages with obscenity warnings.

Theaters will not be allowed to stage productions containing obscenities according to the law, which imposes fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($1,500) for each infraction.

Russian media have reported that software known as the “swear-bot” will be used to police cursing on the Internet.

The law is meant to ensure “the protection and development of linguistic culture,” according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website. But critics say it is reminiscent of Soviet-era censorship and will suppress free expression.

Putin has struck a conservative tone in his latest presidential term, praising what he calls traditional values and holding up the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority.

Last month, newspaper Izvestiya said communications watchdog Roskomnadzor planned to use a search program to root out rude words in online articles and comments attached to them.

The 25 million-rouble ($729,500) system will search the 5,000 mass media sites that are already monitored manually, the report said.

The “swear-bot” faces a huge task as Russian is known for the breadth and inventiveness of its obscene vocabulary.

A dictionary of Russian swear words lists over 1,200 different phrases that use a single slang term for “penis.”

Russian novelist Fyodr Dostoevsky wrote in the 19th century: “It’s possible to express all thoughts, feelings and even deep analytical thoughts just by saying this one noun.”

The swearing law follows stricter rules on bloggers and restrictions on non-state media that critics say were part of a campaign to bring independent media under Kremlin control, something the government denies.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

Alabama head coach Nick Saban seems frustrated during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.

The top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings are unchanged — Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State — heading into a weekend when just about all the contenders are facing challenging rivals.

in Local Sports

Sherman, Baldwin dig at NFL in press conference

lynch

With the help of a cardboard cutout, the Seahawks' Richard Sherman & Doug Baldwin took some digs at the NFL on Tuesday

in Sports

Red Sox finalize agreement with Sandoval

Newly acquired Boston Red Sox free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval smilies as he and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington pose with a team jersey as Sandoval is introduced to the media at Fenway Park Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 in Boston.

The Red Sox have finalized their five-year contract with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the first of two big signings

in Local Sports

Cal coach praises Pac-12 for admitting mistakes

California head coach Sonny Dykes during the second half of an NCAA college football game against California, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, in Tucson, Ariz.

California coach Sonny Dykes praised the Pac-12 on Tuesday for acknowledging that replay officials erred in overturning two touchdowns

in Local Sports

Canucks acquire Pedan from Islanders for Mallet

Canucks fans

Pedan, a 6-foot-4 Moscow native, has played six games with the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season, recording three assists and 51 penalty minutes.