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    RUSSIAN HUMOUR WAS BETTER-OFF UNDER CENSORSHIP, COMPLAINS LITERARY CELEBRITY

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    MOSCOW, April 1, RIA NOVOSTI - Irresponsibility has Americanised Russian humour to make it coarser than it used to be. It was much subtler when it had to get through censors, sighed Arkadi Arkanov, one of Russia's foremost satirical writers.

    Russians were always taking pride in the profound and daring social content of their humour, he remarked to a news conference in Moscow.

    Now, Russians laugh at obscene things like most Americans, so he pines for the years of tough censors who, at least, were keeping obscenities off.

    From Boris Yeltsin on, top Russian politicians are tolerant of humour-a thing unheard-of before, said the famous author.

    "I have no use for people who would not shrug off a joke at their expense, be they political leaders or the people-in-the-street. I never find such people of any interest," he added.

    "Artificial and far-fetched," he snapped a propos All Fools Day, which is today by the way. Humour-related celebrations are unnatural as laughter is a purely physiological phenomenon-a bodily response to situations, said Mr. Arkanov.

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