Staunton, Feb. 20 – Russia is notorious for being a country where the severity of laws is compensated by the fact that they aren’t effectively enforced, but typically even there, officials don’t say there won’t be any penalties for violating them. Now, however, that has happened in the case of the new law demanding that Russians not use foreign terms when Russian ones exist.
Elena Yampolskaya, the head of the Duma’s committee on culture, says that the new law won’t lead to charges for its violation until 2025 to allow time for new dictionaries to be compiled that will show what Russian words should be used in place of foreign borrowings (nazaccent.ru/content/40028-gosduma-v-rossii-ne-budut-nakazyvat-za-nesoblyudenie-norm-russkogo-yazyka.html).
On the one hand, this is an entirely reasonable delay for the imposition of an absurdly impractical law. But on the other – and much more seriously -- such a statement is corrosive of what remains for respect for the law among Russians but suggesting that even those who pass such laws don’t expect anyone to obey them at least for a time.