MOSCOW (AP) - He's been battered and humiliated for more than 40 years, but the wolf in a classic Russian animated cartoon has skirted the indignity of falling victim to a new law.
But Itchy and Scratchy aren't so lucky.
Russian news reports this week speculated that a law on protecting children that takes effect Saturday could require extensive cutting of episodes of the cartoon "Nu Pogodi" because the villainous wolf is a heavy smoker.
The law says material deemed harmful to children can be broadcast only from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
But the vice president of the Russian Academy of Television, Alexander Mitroshenkov, said Thursday that he had consulted with an array of legislators and officials and there was agreement that "we won't cut anything, not one cigarette."
The cartoon, whose name means "Well, Just You Wait," features a hapless, lowlife wolf in perpetually unsuccessful pursuit of a rabbit. It has been hugely popular since its first episodes appeared in 1969.
The prospect of interfering with a classic distressed many, and even one of the country's top health officials opposed the idea.
"He smokes, and let him smoke _ we understand that the wolf is a negative character," Evgeny Bryun, head of narcology at the Health Ministry, told the Interfax news agency.
However, a channel that broadcasts "The Simpsons" said it will cut sections of the cartoon that show Itchy and Scratchy, a show-within-a-show in which a mouse kills a cat in imaginatively gruesome ways, according to Interfax.
Lev Makarov, general director of the channel 2x2, also said it will broadcast "South Park," in which the character Kenny gets repeatedly killed, only in the late-night period.
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