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Russian culture committee to review anti-profanity law

15 July 2014
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Still from Yes and Yes (2013) dir. Valeria Gai Germanika

The State Duma’s culture committee has promised to review the ban on profanity in the arts in what appears to be a response to a public backlash. Much of the dissent has focused on films screened at festivals and cinema clubs. For now, all films require distribution certificates before they can be publicly screened with those that contain swearwords at risk of being refused permission. 

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Gérard Depardieu to launch ‘bio-vodka’ brand in Russia

15 July 2014
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French actor Gérard Depardieu has announced plans to produce an environmentally friendly “bio-vodka” in Russia, with the 40% ABV tipple produced only from the “purest” ingredients, such as mountain spring water.

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Russian summer camps to teach children patriotism

14 July 2014 · Nizhny Novgorod
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Still from Burnt By the Sun 2: Citadel (2010), dir. by Nikita Mikhalkov, an example of a patriotic war epic

A new Russian summer camp designed to teach children basic military skills as well as the virtue of loving their motherland opened in the city of Nizhny Novgorod last week. In addition to patriotic lectures and military training in chemical and biological protection, the camp also runs activities such as paintballing and parachuting for children aged 12 to 18. 

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Russian website to list artworks hit by new swearing ban

14 July 2014
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Still from Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev (2014)

Russian cultural figures are preparing to launch an online directory of the most famous works of art that are now banned in Russia because they contain swearwords. The project is a response to a new law banning the use of profanity in the arts, which came into effect on 1 July.

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News you may have missed: this week in Russian culture

11 July 2014
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Photograph: Erik Drost/Flickr

A sleek and futuristic new tram has been unveiled in Yekaterinburg; the camera used to take a famous World War II photograph will go up for auction; and a "gay kiss-off" is held outside the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires. Here's a look at some of this week's biggest cultural stories from Russia.

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Street in New York renamed after Russian writer Sergei Dovlatov

11 July 2014
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Sergei Dovlatov

A street in New York has been renamed after one of its most famous inhabitants, the dissident Russian poet and writer Sergei Dovlatov. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, signed in the new law to rename the intersection of 63rd Drive and 108th Street, which was home to the writer from 1979 until his death in 1990, Sergei Dovlatov Way. The mayor’s decision marks the first time a street in New York has ever been named after a Russian writer, and is, according to the mayor's office, part of new legislation which will see 63 New York streets and public places co-named "in honour of individuals and entities that have made lasting contributions to New York City". Calls to rename the street after the Russian writer began last year, when a petition put together by Dovlatov fans garnered over 18,000 signatures.

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Russian media watchdog to investigate Marvel comic

11 July 2014
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Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor has launched an investigation into comics produced by US entertainment giants Marvel, who stand accused of promoting “propaganda of a cult of violence and cruelty”. In response to an appeal from one of Russia’s biggest publishing agencies, Rospechat, Roskomnadzor has agreed to look into the comics starring American superheroes the Avengers, who, in a recent issue, engage in combat with Russian villains, one of whom wears hammer and sickle insignia.

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Exhibition of Russian resistance art open in Sweden

10 July 2014
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Dick Captured By The FSB, Voina (2010), painted onto St Petersburg’s Liteiny Bridge

One of the biggest ever exhibitions of Russian resistance art is now on show in the northern Swedish town of Boden, featuring over 40 Russian artists covering five decades of protest art from the 1970s to the present day. The exhibition’s title, Pussy Riot and the Cossacks, takes inspiration from the events which took place during the Sochi Olympic Games, which saw two members of punk rock group Pussy Riot attacked with whips by a group of self-proclaimed Cossacks as they prepared for a performance. The exhibition is housed in an expansive former military building and features paintings, photographs, slideshows and sculptures, including big names from Russia’s underground art world like performance artist Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, photographer Igor Mukhin and activist group Voina.

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Archive of KGB documents open to the public in Cambridge

9 July 2014
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A collection of handwritten copies of KGB documents ranging from the early days of the Soviet Union to its collapse is now open to the public in an archive centre in Cambridge. The Mitrokhin Archives – a compilation of documents which were copied in secret by KGB archivist Major Vasili Mitrokhin in the 1970s and 1980s – were smuggled into Britain with Mitrokhin when he defected from Russia in the early 1990s. Stored at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, the documents were thoroughly vetted by staff at MI5 before being allowed into the public domain.

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Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan given permission to be shown in Russia

9 July 2014
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Still from Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev (2014)

The latest film from Russian film director Andrey Zvyagintsev Leviathan has been issued with an 18+ certificate from the Russian Ministry of Culture, allaying fears that the film would be banned altogether from Russian cinemas due to the use of swearing in the film, which could be seen to violate the law enacted last week forbidding the use of profanity in the arts. The Ministry of Culture announced the news on its website yesterday, saying that “an exhibition certificate for the film Leviathan has been given, dating from late June, with an 18+ restriction due to the presence of foul language in the film”.

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