Staunton, December 30 – Russian officials and politicians have outdone themselves this past year with the often strange ideas they have offered, sometimes without any apparent thought in advance. As 2015 goes into the books, Slon journalist Aleksandr Baklanov offers his personal selection of the ten most “enchanting” of these proposals (snob.ru/selected/entry/102312).
His list is as follows:
1. In a Crisis, Russians Urged to Eat Less. Ilya Gaffner, a United Russia Duma deputy, suggested last January that Russians should respond to the crisis by eating less. By August, if he was paying attention, he would have discovered that 60 percent of Russians are economizing on food.
2. Legalize Gay Marriage because ‘Love Works Miracles.’ TV personality Dmitry Kiselyev picked up on Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Russians shouldn’t get worked up about gay marriage and proposed legalizing homosexual unions. After all, he declared, “love works miracles and who can be against that?” But the majority of the State Duma were.
3. Prohibit Those who Owe Fines from Getting Married. The state agency that handles the registration of official acts like marriage suggested that it should not register anyone applying to get married if he or she has not paid all government fines that have been levelled against them. That restriction apparently has not been put in place but those who owe now can’t leave the country.
4. No One Should Earn More than Putin. Oleg Nilov, a Just Russia Duma deputy, proposed that no Russian businessman be allowed to earn more than Vladimir Putin’s official and very nominal salary. Not surprisingly, neither business nor the government supported that.
5. Legalize Polygamy. Chechen officials say that polygamy should be legalized in Russia becxauase “if a man can support another wife, then why not?” Muslim officials in Moscow suggested this would simply legalize existing relations and protect women. And Duma deputy Elena Mizulina said that it was “backward and stupid” to punish people for polygamy.
6. Moscow Urged to Burn Clothing Coming from Abroad. The head of Russia’s textile industry urged Vladimir Putin to extend his program of destroying contraband food to clothing as well and thus boost the earnings of textile workers. So far, there has been no public reaction from the Kremlin.
7. Duma Deputies Want Russians to Apply for Permission to Go Abroad. Any Russian who wants to travel abroad should have to apply for an exit visa. The idea has support in the government even though officials say that they will not use such an arrangement to limit the freedom of Russians to travel.
8. No Vodka on Fridays. A Moscow deputy, Aleksey Mishin, has called for officials in Moscow to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages on Friday as a way of promoting sobriety. But neither the Moscow city government nor the Russian one have approved the idea.
9. Russian Parents Don’t Want Putin to Delay School Opening. Vladimir Putin suggested moving the first day of school from September 1 to September 15, but Russian parents were overwhelmingly opposed and the government has decided to leave the date where it has been at least for the time being and for primary and secondary schools.
10. Ban Language to Fight Terrorism. Aleksandr Ageyev, a Duma deputy, has proposed banning the Telegram messenger system because terrorists can use it to recruit people or direct their activities. The founder of Telegram responded that perhaps Russian should ban language because “there are indications that with the help of words, the terrorists communicate with one another.” Perhaps as a result, Moscow has left Telegram in peace, again for the time being.