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Butt Out, Russian Officials

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • Russians are resentful of overzealous officials proposing bans targeting their way of life.
    Photo: Gordon Anthony McGowan / Flickr

Women Under 40 Prohibited, shouted the newspaper headline.

From what? I wondered. Becoming judges or school principals? Joining social clubs for the middle-aged?

The answer, when I read further, was equally absurd.

The article was on a proposal debated in the Russian parliament this month. Lawmaker Ivan Nikitchuk had introduced a bill to ban the sale of cigarettes to women under 40. Violators would be fined 3,000 to 5,000 rubles ($90 to $150).

Lets leave on one side the obviously discriminatory nature of a legislative move that would be unthinkable in any other European country.

Although the idea seems straight out of a political satire, it is indicative of a way of thinking in the upper echelons of government. Many Russian officials believe that tight control and restrictions are the best approach to a range of social issues from drug addiction to reproductive health.

Nikitchuk says the smoking ban for younger women would help preserve the genetic resources of the nation.

All normal Russian people want to leave a healthy generation to follow after them, and we do not want our country to turn into a land of disabled people and allergy sufferers, Nikitchuk said in an interview withKommersant.

When a woman smokes, she creates infertility risks for herself and is much more likely to give birth to an unhealthy child. Over the past 20 years the number of women in Russia who smoke has tripled. And it is high time to act.

Asked why the proposed ban does not target the male population, Nikitchuk said wait for it that men who smoke have already punished themselves enough because smoking effectively reduces their sexual potency.

In recent months the Russian state has produced an avalanche of ever more sophisticated and intrusive restrictions meant to improve public health.

In February, Russian officials expressed grave concerns about the quality ofwomens underwearand banned lingerie that does not reach a 6 percent threshold for moisture absorption.

Moisture absorption in many of the most popular synthetics used in frilly panties is reportedly around only 3 to 3.6 percent. All of these wrong types of lingerie are due to disappear from the shelves in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, which form a customs union, byJuly 1.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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