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Russian city mulls getting rid of ‘unpatriotic’ signs

The Russian city of Krasnodar could soon remove all billboards and signs that use languages other than Russian, according to a new initiative floated by the local authorities.

On Friday, the administration of the southern Russian city announced that the potential move, along with other amendments to the Rules on Provision of Urban Amenities, would be discussed in public hearings slated for late April. Local residents will have two weeks to examine the proposed changes, it added.

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The initiative comes after the city’s mayor, Evgeny Naumov, pointed out in February that the city was awash in signs and billboards in foreign languages. “We have a lot of signs in English and who knows what other languages… Given the situation our country has found itself in, this seems a bit unpatriotic,” he noted at the time, referring to the ongoing Ukraine conflict and Moscow’s standoff with the West.

Similar ideas have also been floated at the national level. In June 2022, Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that the lower chamber of the parliament was mulling a ban on signs written in foreign languages.

Elena Yampolskaya, who heads the Duma Committee for Culture, explained at the time that in Moscow the number of signs using the Latin alphabet exceeded those in Russian by some 30% to 50%.

The proposal, however, has faced opposition from the private sector, with business owners complaining that replacing advertisement billboards would be an extremely costly endeavor, according to Moscow’s business ombudswoman Tatyana Mineeva.

An initiative banning ads in foreign languages was formally introduced to the Duma in early December. The potential prohibition, however, does not apply to trademarks. The initiative is currently being reviewed.

Meanwhile, some restrictions on using foreign words already apply to Russian officials. In late February, President Vladimir Putin signed a law disallowing the use of “words and expressions that do not correspond to the norms of modern Russian” in formal situations, with exceptions for terms that do not have an equivalent in the state language.

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