The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry has proposed that condoms be added to a long list of imported products that the country should consider banning—part of its ongoing feud with the west over the conflict in Ukraine.
Even if the supply of condoms is constrained, that may not be such a bad thing, one influential former official said.
Restrictions on foreign condoms “will simply make one more disciplined, more strict and discriminating in choosing partners,” former government health chief and cabinet adviser Gennady Onishchenko told a Russian news agency, according to The Moscow Times. He added that restrictions on so-called ”rubber technical goods” will perhaps “do a favor to our society in respect to solving demographic problems.” Russia’s birth rate has been declining for years.
Of course condoms don’t just prevent pregnancy, contrary to Onishchenko’s assertion that condoms “have nothing to do with health.” HIV infections are on the rise in Russia—according to official statistics, 90,000 people contracted the virus last year. The government’s top AIDS expert, Vadim Pokrovsky, who has criticized the Kremlin in the past for its health policies, said that restricting foreign condoms may not necessarily exacerbate the problem, as they are already too expensive for many Russians. But then again, the cheap domestic ones are notoriously shoddy.
A spokesman for president Vladimir Putin, asked about the proposed ban, said: “You know, the Kremlin has not thought about it,” according to news service Pravda.