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20 May, 2023 14:12

Putin is asked to ban term ‘infogypsies’

The word, used in Russia to describe controversial online lifestyle coaches, incites hatred, Nadezhda Demetr argues
Putin is asked to ban term ‘infogypsies’

The word ‘infogypsies,’ used in Russia to describe opportunistic organizers of online lifestyle and personal development courses, is derogatory to the Roma people and should be banned, prominent scholar and Roma activist Nadezhda Demetr has told Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The use of terms that promote hatred towards the Roma people in the media has recently become more frequent,” Demetr, who heads an NGO called Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Russian Roma, complained during a meeting of the Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations on Friday.

The activist said that in the first place she was talking about the word ‘infogypsies,’ which is now employed by bloggers, various media outlets, including state TV, and even some officials. This term “in reality has no connection to the Gypsies (Roma),” she said.

Demetr proposed to legally ban any words and phrases that “point to nationality and have a pronounced negative connotation” from appearing in the media.

“It’s necessary to prohibit the use of the term ‘infogypsies’ online and block pages [that employ it],” she said, addressing the president. “After all, the Russian language is so rich and so beautiful… I think one can easily find synonyms for such words.”

“I fully agree with you,” Putin said in response to the proposal. He pointed out that it would be “quite difficult” to control the use of the word on social media platforms. “But as for state media, this surely must be done. We’ll definitely take what you’ve said into account,” he promised.

In recent months, several prominent Russian bloggers have gotten in trouble over unpaid taxes. Among them was lifestyle coach and motivational speaker Elena Blinovskaya, who was detained in late April, while attempting to cross the border into Belarus by car.

The 41-year-old was accused of falsifying business records and failing to pay more than 918 million rubles ($11.2 million) in income tax between 2019 and 2021. She pleaded guilty to the charges and was placed under house arrest.

Blinovskaya, who made a fortune by staging live events and online seminars, called ‘marathons,’ on topics such as psychology, astrology, motherhood, and sex, is widely considered the embodiment of the term that Demetr wants banned.