Weary Russians lament rash of 'absurd bills' being debated in the Duma
Bans galore in rash of 'absurd bills' see citizens demanding mental health check of lawmaker
If Russian lawmakers have their way, smoking for women under 40 will soon be banned, ads for condoms and pregnancy tests will be banished from mainstream media and using foreign words will result in a steep fine.
The latest string of initiatives by MPs have become so bizarre that Russians say they don't know whether to laugh or cry.
One lawmaker recently proposed introducing official standards for footwear, charging that high heels and ballet flats were bad for women's health.
A legislator from the ruling United Russia party, Elena Mizulina, has put forward so many controversial ideas including proposals to ban abortions and surrogate motherhood that Russians have launched an online petition calling for her sanity to be checked.
"It is no secret that Elena Mizulina, chairperson of the State Duma's family issues committee, is coming forward with increasingly absurd bills," said the petition signed by more than 100,000 people. "We request that the health ministry allocate its best experts to have Elena Mizulina's mental health examined. Mentally ill people have no place in the State Duma."
While some of the bills may not pass muster, others are likely to sail through. President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a ban on swear words in the arts that will enter into force on Tuesday.
The initiatives come amid a fresh wave of anti-Western propaganda and the deadly crisis in Ukraine. Many say some bills call to mind the infamous Stalin-era "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign that sought to root out all things bourgeois.
Everyday Russians don't mince words, saying the parliament has gone off the deep end.
"When I heard about a ban on trainers and high heels I was puzzled," said Muscovite Elizaveta Krasnopevtseva, 17. "I had thought you can't reach such a level of idiocy."
Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist Party deputy, vigorously defended his bill to ban smoking for women under 40 and in the presence of children under 14.
"We don't want to ban everything," he said. "We want to leave behind a healthy generation."
Mikhail Degtyaryov of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, who is promoting the foreign words ban, said Russians need prodding in the right direction. "If people are allowed to do everything they want, we would return to the Stone Age," the 32-year-old deputy said.