Hands off our women, Russian MP tells foreignersHands off our women, Russian MP tells foreigners
Scandalised by the fact that some of Russia's most beautiful women are opting to marry foreigners, the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky is backing a bill that would make them think twice before exchanging vows with a non-Russian. His party, the incongruously named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, has drafted a draconian marriage bill that will now be considered by the Duma, the Russian Parliament. It envisages severe penalties for Russian girls or women who choose "unpatriotically" to wed a foreigner, a trend the party believes is robbing the country's gene pool of its greatest resource. It is proposing punishing such female "traitors" by stripping them of their citizenship, deporting them to the country of their new husband and never allowing them to return. The party also wants them to feel the pain in their pockets and is suggesting that their Russian assets be automatically distributed among their relatives or given to the state. Calling Russia's female population a "national treasure", he said the bill was being introduced "in order not to squander our gene pool".
They've got used to freedom, so why do Russians still hunger for the USSR?
In a poll conducted in 2003, the Russian Centre for Public Opinion found that 53 per cent of Russians still regard Stalin as a "great" leader. Since 1989, the Russian mortality rate has risen from below 11 per 1,000 to more than 15 per 1,000 - nearly double the American rate. For adult males, the mortality rate is three times higher. Average male life expectancy at birth is below 60, roughly the same as in Bangladesh. A 20-year-old Russian man has a less than 50/50 chance of reaching the age of 65. This has much to do with the round-the-clock consumption of fags and booze - the typical St Petersburg man walks around with a bottle of beer and a cigarette in one hand the way a Londoner carries his mobile phone - not to mention an attitude to road safety apparently inspired by the Mad Max films. Exacerbating the demographic effects of increased mortality has been a steep decline in the fertility rate, from 2.19 births per woman in the mid-1980s to a nadir of 1.17 in 1999. Because of these trends, the United Nations projects that Russia's population will decline from 146 million in 2000 to 101 million in 2050. By that time the population of Egypt will be larger.