MOSCOW - 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.
In rhetoric uncomfortably reminiscent of that used by the Nazis, the party believes that the large number of Russian women taking foreign spouses is a threat to national security that risks undermining Russian identity and "the purity of the Russian race".
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.
The bill has formally been proposed by MP Nikolai Kuryanovich, a member of the Parliament's powerful National Security Committee, with the explicit backing of the fiery Zhirinovsky.
"Our wonderful women are the best in the world," Kuryanovich told Ekho Moskvy radio. "Wherever I have been, I have rarely seen beautiful girls, only in Russia and some other Slav nations."
Calling Russia's female population a "national treasure", he said the bill was being introduced "in order not to squander our gene pool".
- INDEPENDENTBy Andrew Osborn