[Stop-traffic] News/Russia: Saratov Region: Regional human rights ombu

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Russia: Saratov Region: Regional human rights ombu
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Nov 14 2001 - 22:31:31 EST

Subject: Russia: Saratov Region: Regional human rights
  legalization of prostitution

>From BBC Monitoring Service, December 27, 2000:

Russian region considers legalization of prostitution

Text of report by Russian NTV International television on 27

[Presenter] The local government in Saratov Region has been
discussing an important issue today - love for money.

[Correspondent] A congress of Saratov's prostitutes has again
postponed. It has been delayed several times because it kept
unfortunately coinciding with an official event of some kind. On the
occasion it was the visit of Prime Minister [Mikhail] Kasyanov to open a
bridge over the Volga. The government of Saratov Region has now decided to
have nothing to do with the congress but, without drawing public attention
to the fact, to hold a roundtable on the problems of prostitution. The
girls themselves have not been invited so that the issue can be considered
in general, without any distraction by particulars. The most important
thing to be decided, the Saratov administration believes, is whether or
not prostitution should be legalized.

The Saratov Region government's human rights ombudsman, Aleksandr
Lando, believes it should and has the graphs and charts to prove it.

[Lando] Why, when prostitution is legal in practice but not in law,
does no one respond to it? I mean the tax police or the tax
inspectors, or the law-enforcement agencies. Everyone seems to take
it as a given fact. They register it and no-one does anything about
it perhaps because big sums of money are involved.

[Correspondent] Not so long ago, Aleksandr Lando took up the cause of
drunks in the street but once he had managed to get all Saratov's sobering
up centres closed, he switched to seeking to realize an idea conceived by
Saratov governor Dmitriy Ayatskov to set up Russia's first official
brothel. Saratov can't be turned into Amsterdam, however, and it has been
impossible to open a brothel since this cannot be made to fit with the
Criminal Code. Now, Lando has risen up to defend the rights of the
prostitutes themselves. They are, he says, one of the least protected
sectors of the population.

[Lando] And we have to work something out, some kind of criteria and
either legalize it or put up a serious fight against it but just not doing
anything is wrong in principle.

[Correspondent] Lando suggests making the services these women offer legal
and taxing their income. He submitted the first payments to today's
roundtable: up to R1bn could be collected per annum in Saratov Region.
Under the draft, the prostitutes' work would be strictly regulated. Girls
could only be taken on after the age of 18 and could work only in areas
set aside for that purpose, away from schools and, for some reason, from
state institutions. The girls would visit a clinic once a fortnight. True,
the draft doesn't mention what would be entered in their work records.

Source: NTV International, Moscow, in Russian

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