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Russian pornography and erotica.

Pornography in the Soviet Union[edit]

Pornography in the Soviet Union was largely suppressed until the final years of the USSR. According to The Pornography and Erotica Debate: USSR, sex in general was viewed as "a wasteful consumer of energies better devoted to the building of Communism." Genrikh Yagoda, the third head of the NKVD, was accused during his trial (besides espionage and high treason) of storing a great number of pornographic films and pictures. Such accusations were also faced by Nikolai Yezhov, who followed Yagoda. More recently, possession could get up to 3 years in prison, or a 3000 ruble fine. The 1988 Soviet film Malenkaya Vera was the first to feature a sex scene. The resolution on Glasnost stated, "Glasnost must not be used...[to] disseminate pornography" but by September 1989, calendars of topless women for the year 1990 were being sold in Moscow.[1]


Russian directors and the entire community of adult-movie fans, critiques, and others intrigued by the rare sexual appeal of the Russian movies, often shun away from using the term pornography. Rightfully so, they prefer a more accurate term of erotica, which stands for a more creative and passionate dramatic performance.[citation needed]

Another reason for the use of the term erotica as opposed to pornography has its roots in the etymology of words and their established use in Russian society. The word porn, while spelled the same around the globe, may mean one thing in New York and stand for an entirely different concept in Moscow. There is no legal definition of pornography in Russia, but the social and linguistic look at the word makes it disreputable and notorious.[citation needed]

Erotica in Russia, on the other hand, often refers to sophisticated and refined adult entertainment, with or without close-up shots and vivid exposure of penetration. Instead on commenting on so to speak, technical attributes, the term Erotica rather contracts an approach that describes the nature and spirit of the movie as such. Say, a classy movie emerged in the luxury of early 19th century Russian noble life and depicting sexual merriment in glorious historical palaces, would definitely be classified as high-class erotica, irrespectively of the technical details such as close-ups and penetration.[citation needed]

Legal issues[edit]

In 1996 section 242[2] in Russian Criminal Code became a federal legislation that prohibited sale and production of "illegal" pornographic materials (dead link) .[3] The section provides for a penalty of up to 2 years in prison. Authorities missed a critical definition—the one of actual pornography. While pornography is officially illegal to sell in Russia, the law doesn’t spell out in exact terms the subject of the ban. Russian erotica is sold openly in sex shops and DVD stores. Newspapers publish information about police raids on such places on a monthly basis.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Edmondson, Linda Harriet (1992). Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union.
  2. ^ Russian Criminal Code 1996, Article 242
  3. ^ Osipov 2003, Oblaka


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