Russian politics isn’t for the faint at heart, and sometimes not for the intelligent either as you will see.
You probably have read here and other places about the Duma vote to stop adoption of Russian orphans by American families. As detailed today in the Moscow Times: It is also well-known that the chances a child will die after being adopted by a family in Russia are almost 40 times higher than if adopted by a family in the West. In just a few days, more than 100,000 people signed a petition asking the Duma to vote against the ban.
There was even opposition to the ban among some United Russia deputies, and the Kremlin was compelled to take unprecedented tough measures to tame their unruly deputies to vote for the ban. The deputies were given an ultimatum: Vote for the law or be ousted from the faction and lose your parliamentary seat. Deputy Alexander Sidyakin abstained, and he was asked to write a note explaining that the electronic voting system at his seat “broke.” Sidyakin refused and is now awaiting the party’s decision on whether his seat will be taken away.
That wasn’t the only dramatic moment in the debates. Vyacheslav Osipov, another United Russia deputy, had chest pains and didn’t attend the voting. But he left his electronic voting card with another party member. His colleague voted for him, and Osipov’s vote for the ban was duly registered. The twist was that by the time deputies cast their votes, Osipov had already died of a heart attack.
Perhap you recall that the Soviet government forbid foreign adoptions. They were first allowed during the warming of relations with the U.S. during the last years of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev‘s rule. It looks like Putin’s time machine, set in motion at the start of his third term, is returning the country to that era.
Also reported in today’s Moscow Times, State Duma Deputy Oleg Mikheyev from the Just Russia party came up with an original idea to lift the spirits of people depressed by all of the bad news they face every day from the country’s leading media outlets. Last week, he presented a new bill that would force Russia’s main media to limit their amount of “negative information” to 30 percent, while boosting the amount of “positive information” to 70 percent. Journalists found in violation of these rules could face prison sentences of two to six years.
Back in September Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that tax advantages and state subsidies have not been enough to revive the Russian film industry. He asked his government to find other ways to revive film and movie production in Russia. In lieu of good ideas, one Russian lawmaker has proposed penalties for Russian theatres that show foreign films. Offering his proposal as an amendment to Tax Code Article 149, United Russia Deputy Sergei Zheleznyak’s idea is to force Russian theatres into a quota of Russian versus foreign film showings. It should be noted that there is a reason why theatres show so many foreign movies–it is what Russian consumers want to watch these days.
That new “anti-adoption” bill which just passed the Russian Duma isn’t just about stranding Russian orphans, it is also hitting hard at non-Russian NGO’s. Now the human rights watchdog groups Amnesty International, the Moscow Helsinki Group, and Memorial are under fire, too.