December 19, 2013

9 Crazy Things Russian Lawmakers Have Tried to Ban

9 Crazy Things Russian Lawmakers Have Tried to Ban

This list is translated and adapted from Snob’s list of “9 Things They’ve Tried to Save Us From.”


1. Bad News

Sometimes reading the news is just depressing – a search for “news from Arkhangelsk” brings up falling buildings, drowning children, burning buses, and corruption. SR Duma representative Oleg Mikheyev’s reaction: ban bad news and limit journalists’ ability to publish negative information to 30 percent of overall news. Have more negativity to spew? Sorry, that could cost you up to six years in prison.


2. Childless Women

Natalia Baskova, of the Chelyabinsk city Duma, proposed a new law, under which all women would be required to marry and have at least one child before turning 20. Seems a bit out of the blue, but Baskova is not the only one frightened by Russia’s lengthy population decline, particularly among the ethnic Russian population. This was her somewhat heavy-handed idea for a solution. (It’s worth noting, however, that the population is no longer declining.)


3. The Sound of Cat Paws

Here’s a law that actually passed: the city council of St. Petersburg adopted a bill that forbade yelling, whistling, knocking, moving furniture, singing, and playing musical instruments at night – Russians value their quiet hours! Conspicuously absent from the list, but mentioned in debate: the sound of cat paws, dog howls, loud snoring, and moving refrigerators.


4. Dash Cams

As proposed, a Duma bill would have fined drivers for attaching anything to their windshields and windows that would block their vision; the items would be confiscated. The items could include your average GPS or radio antenna, but many believed the intended targets were dashboard-mounted cameras (“dash cams”), which Russian drivers install, in part, to record proof of corruption and other shady dealings (but also to flood YouTube with compilations of car crashes, and to provide comedic fodder for The Daily Show). But dash cams lived to see another day – the bill was rejected in committee.


5. The Consequences of Eating Garlic

An LDPR Duma representative, Sergei Ivanov, introduced a bill to “protect citizens from the consequences of consuming garlic.” (By “consequences” he probably just meant the smell.) The use of garlic was to be banned in educational, cultural, youth, and transportation facilities, and no garlic was to be sold at night (10 PM to 9 AM) or in enclosed spaces smaller than 25 square meters.


6. Doctors’ Mistakes

Another LDPR rep, Valery Seleznev, proposed that medical facilities be required to make video recordings of any operations they perform (but only with the patient’s consent). The recording could then provide conclusive evidence of guilt in malpractice suits. Added bonus: providing medical students with videos of complicated or rare operations could help with their training, which, in turn, would diminish the frequency of mistakes! Everyone wins.


7. Women at Political Demonstrations

Citing the Bible, Vitaly Milonov, a representative in the St. Petersburg legislature, claimed that a woman caught participating in political rallies should be publicly shamed. His bill would have forbidden such women from ever marrying – although it remains unclear whether that would have had much of an effect on the number of women at such demonstrations.


8. The End of the World

The St. Petersburg legislature considered a bill that would forbid the media from mentioning an imminent end of the world. SR’s Andrei Gorshechnikov spearheaded the bill, expressing his concern over “the rise of eschatological sentiments in society,” which he believes could lead to rising crime and suicide rates, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. Could the media be intentionally fanning the flames by talking about the end of the world?

(Incidentally, this is not the first time the Russian government has taken an interest in theology. “Sectarianism” is a crime under the Russian criminal code, defined as organizing a cult that may cause harm to its members or society.)


9. Sacrifices

A bill proposed by LDPR representatives Igor Lebedev and Sergei Ivanov would have imposed a 2000-ruble fine or 15 days imprisonment for performing animal or human sacrifices outside of designated areas. The bill does not appear to have passed – possibly because it seems to imply that human sacrifices are acceptable, so long as you keep it to certain locations…


Photo credit: Eugenia Sokolskaya

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