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Moscow reportedly considers kissing ban
( 2003-11-10 16:32) (Agencies)

Don't kiss and tell and certainly don't tell the police in Moscow, where city authorities are reportedly considering levying fines for public displays of affection.

As part of an effort to "improve morals" in the Russian capital, its government is working on an order that would prohibit kissing in subways and other public places, the newspaper Stolichnaya Vechernyaya Gazeta reported on its Web site. It said the ban was being considered at the request of police and the city's education committee.

"Children do not need any sexual education classes in school ... they get amoral lessons every day when they see what goes on around them," the newspaper quoted committee member Tatyana Maximova as saying. "People are making out even on the escalator in the metro. Something must be done about this."

It's not uncommon for couples to kiss on the long, slow escalators leading down to Moscow's subway platforms the steps allow people of different heights to gaze directly into each other's faces, and it beats looking at advertisements during the ride. But the embraces are mostly reserved and few people seem to object at least until now.

According to Stolichnaya Vechernyaya Gazeta, fines for breaking the rules, if they are adopted, would range from 300 to 500 rubles ($10 to $17). And if the kissing couples didn't have the money, the paper reported, police could hold them at the precinct house until somebody paid.

It said the same order would target other potentially offensive and perhaps equally common public behavior, including drinking alcohol, loud cursing, drunkenness and spitting.

City officials and police were not available for comment late Sunday on the report of the potential ban, which drew criticism from prominent human rights activist Valeriya Novodvorskaya, who said a kissing ban would be "Orwellian" and vowed to violate it as often as possible if it is enacted.

"If this is not a joke and the mayor's office is indeed drafting such a resolution, I will start spending my days kissing in public places just out of principle," Novodvorskaya told Echo of Moscow radio after the report appeared last week. She said she would urge other Muscovites to do the same.

 
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