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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Russian region bans foul language
Russian policeman tackles youth (file pic)
"Anything you say can be held against you"
Police in Russia's western Belgorod region are imposing fines on people who swear in public - and local officials say the campaign is very popular.

The officials say young people have been minding their language since the ban was introduced in July.

Any person caught uttering profanities in public can face fines of up to $50.

The authorities have launched anti-swearing poster competitions, TV ads and comics in their campaign to clean up the Russian language.

"We want Russian to remain as pure as in the great classics," said Valentina Trunova, deputy head of Belgorod's department of youth affairs.

'Positive response'

The money collected from fines is ploughed back into the campaign, she told BBC News Online.

Mat nye nash format (Swearing is not our style)
Campaign slogan
"We're mainly targeting young people," she said. "We will continue the campaign for a long time - we've had a very positive response."

The fines of up to 1,500 rubles ($50) can be imposed under the region's existing civil law, she said. The law classifies foul language in public as hooliganism.

The initiative for the campaign came from Belgorod Governor Yevgeny Savchenko, who supports President Vladimir Putin. The region lies about 700km (430 miles) southwest of Moscow.

Almost 2,500 people - mostly under 30 - have been fined and about $50,000 has been collected, Belgorod officials say.

But according to Russia's Gazeta newspaper, some youths object to the crackdown.

"The cops have gone crazy," said one young man. "They are listening to our every word. We must constantly restrain ourselves."

The amount of the fine depends on the situation.

Swearing in front of elderly people or children incurs heavier penalties, a Belgorod government official said.

No one has been jailed under the ban so far.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How one Russian city is combating rude residents



SEE ALSO:
Ofcom backs swearing complaints
17 May 04 |  Entertainment
US TV watchdog banishes swearing
19 Mar 04 |  Entertainment
TV swearing 'rising in US'
23 Sep 03 |  Entertainment
Country profile: Russia
05 Sep 04 |  Country profiles


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