Russian Language Blog

Silly Russian Laws Posted by on Mar 10, 2015 in Culture, History, News, Russian life, Soviet Union, when in Russia

Recently I was reading an article about laws in various countries that were considered ludicrous. It seemed that many countries have their share of laws that are comical or ridiculous – Russia proved to be no exception. What follows are a few of these laws. Hope you enjoy:-)

In the city of Chelyabinsk, it is against the law to drive a dirty car. With a population of over one million people, you can bet that there are going to be some dirty cars. The fine for driving a dirty car was reported to be about 2,000 rubles – this was equivalent to about $62 at one time. This law also went into effect in Moscow. Basically, this law provides the police with an excuse to pull you over should they need “lunch money.” Both of these cities could be a great place to open up a car wash.

Bloggers are not allowed to use profanity. Profanity also cannot be used in theater or film. The “arts’ have now been protected from profanity by a law that President Putin made official last year. The Battleship Potemkin is one of the only Russian movies that I can remember seeing that might not have any profanity in it. Though this law may have the good intentions of “protecting” traditional Russian values, it may make people feel as though their freedom of expression has been reduced.

A law was passed in 2011 by Dmitri Medvedev that officially acknowledged beer as an alcoholic beverage; much to the chagrin of those that thought otherwise. What this effectively did was to limit where beer could be sold. Perhaps this is why President Putin decided to get back into the game. Does this mean that if you do not consider beer to be an alcoholic beverage, you are breaking the law?

When Russia was known as the U.S.S.R., distributing Beatles albums was illegal. Guess the politburo never heard Back In The U.S.S.R. or they just didn’t like it. To be fair, most imports from the West were against the law. Who needs music from the West when you’ve got a balalaika?

As I mentioned earlier, Russia is not alone with its silly laws. In Germany its illegal to run out of gas on the autobahn. In Milan, its illegal to frown in public and in Venice its against the law to feed the birds. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and so is wearing heals in Greece. As we can see, things we do harmlessly in one country could land us in trouble in another. In all countries, I would dare say that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, so arm yourself with knowledge in order to save yourself money and grief.

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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    Speaking of the Beatles and the U. S. S. R. – a few years ago (some of you may remember) Paul McCartney “returned to the USSR” and gave a fabulous concert in Red Square. It was just amazing! Even “former Soviet officials” were there . . . even Putin! And some talked about how much they loved the Beatles “back in the days.” I did make a video tape of it and probably have it somewhere. It’s probably available to buy now and, if it is, it’s really worth it! Just a wonderful show. I think I cried during most of it . . . watching the grown men crowded into the square singing along with tears in their eyes. Just amazing! In fact, I think I’ll look for it myself now. Thanks for this interesting, fun blog!

  2. Jenya:

    Муни, спасибо большое! Я слышала о его приезде.
    What I didn’t mention in my post is that many people still found a way to get their hands on foreign records, underground culture existed in Russia even then

  3. Jonas:

    The law against running out of gas on the Autobahn in Germany does make a lot of sense actually. The Autobahn is made for high speeds (on some there is no speed limit at all and people use that to really max out whatever their car can do, so driving at 230-250km/h is not rare). Now imagine someone’s car suddenly stops because you were so foolish not to refuel. There are special lanes on the right of the Autobahn which are reserved for ambulances, firefighters and so on. Now what if you run out of gas and have to stop on that lane in order not to be in the way of cars coming after you at 250km/h? You’re blocking the way for ambulances and people might die, just because you were so foolish and forgot to check the tank. BTW it’s also illegal to use the Autobahn if your can’t do more than 60km/h, for the same reasons.

  4. Tyrone:

    When I was in Russia in 2009 I learned about рёбра (also known as music on ribs or bone music). During the 50-60’s people would listen to banned music (mostly western jazz and rock) by turning x-rays in to records by cutting grooves into them. I am pretty sure there must be a couple of Beatles albums on x-ray in Russia, you can still find some of the x-ray albums at flea markets, well so I have heard. People also risked imprisonment by copying censored books either for themselves or to pass it on and so on.

  5. Tatyana:

    About beer being alcohol drink,this law was created to prohibit selling beer after 10 pm. In Russia you can buy alcohol in a shop only from 11 am to 10 pm. This law is very efficient indeed.

  6. Nezzucho:

    Oh there is an other one that could have been mentioned : the fairly new “anti-gay propaganda law”! The mere use of the word “propaganda shows itself how stupid and ignorant the law is. Like you could convert someone to be gay ! 😀