Foreign critics often dismiss Russia’s State Duma as a rubber stamp parliament carrying out the will of President Vladimir Putin. But its members can, and do, weigh in on the country’s most pressing issues. For instance, is it okay to make babies with a charming foreign soccer fan?
Tamara Pletnyova, a member of the Communist Party and chair of the Duma’s Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs, says no. “There will be girls who meet men, and then they will give birth. Maybe they will get married, maybe they won’t. But the kids will suffer, just like they suffered [after the 1980 Moscow Olympics],” she told a Moscow radio station in remarks translated by the Independent.
You can probably tell where this train of thought is leading. She continued: “It is one thing if the parents are of the same race; quite another if they are of different races. We should give birth to our own children.”
Pletnyova isn’t just known for making racist remarks. As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, in March, she also suggested that “girl journalists” who complained of facing sexual harassment while covering the parliament should “put clothes on themselves when entering a state building, instead of having their belly buttons naked.”
Another Duma member, Aleksandr Sherin, who is deputy chairman of the defense committee and a member of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said that Russians should avoid hugging, kissing, or accepting chewing gum or cigarettes from visitors, since “people from other continents” could be carrying infectious diseases. He noted, accurately I suppose, that Russia cannot force visitors to take “chlorinated showers” since they “are coming to Russia, not a German concentration camp.”
But not everyone is feeling so standoffish. Mikhail Degtyarev, another member of the LDPR faction who ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013, said, “The more love stories we have connected to the World Cup, the more people from different countries fall in love, the more children are born, the better. Many years from now these children will remember that their parents’ love story began during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also rejected Pletnyova’s argument, saying, “As for our Russian women, they will make their own judgment,” he said. “They are the best women in the world.”
Who says there’s no freedom in Russia?