Most Russians support ban on English language signage – poll

A new bill would crack down on non-Russian signs at stores or in advertising

More than half of Russians favor the proposal to mandate the use of Russian on shop signs or names of buildings, according to a poll made public on Wednesday.

Citing the need to protect the Russian language, a bill submitted to the State Duma last week would outlaw the practice of using English-language ads in shops and on products, as well as naming districts, buildings or products in English.

The new bill seeks to crack down on use of terms such as “coffee”, “fresh”, “sale”, “shop”, and “open” at Russian stores. It would not apply to brand names, trademarks or service signs, however, so the Russian replacements for Starbucks – Star Coffee – would be in the clear, for example.

When asked about the bill by the pollster Superjob, 53% of respondents said they approved of the measure, with comments such as “In our country, we should be able to understand everything” and “We must protect the Russian language.”

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A quarter of the respondents were opposed, however, complaining that there was “no point in changing the existing names” and that “there are clearly things where funding is needed more.”

Another 22% thought it would be a good idea to use both languages. Support for Russian-only signs was the strongest among Russians over 45 (77%) and those who do not speak English at all (67%), though 47% of those who speak it fluently were in favor of the proposal as well.

The signage bill appears to be more popular than the law already enacted in early 2023, which banned the “excessive use” of foreign words in official documents and communications. Only 41% of Russians polled were in favor of that measure.

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