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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beggars, Peeing Cats Targeted

Fortunetelling, panhandling and allowing cats to urinate in certain places will become fineable offenses under legislation that is making its way through the Moscow city legislature.

Fortunetellers and panhandlers would face fines of 300 rubles ($11), while the owner of a cat that pees near a neighbor's door would have to pay 1,000 rubles, according to the amendments to the City Administrative Code that passed in a first reading this week.

A second reading is scheduled for September, and the United Russia deputy who drafted the bill, Alexander Semenninkov, said Thursday that he hoped it would come into force by the start of next year. "I'm sure some of these provisions will seem amusing to some people," Semenninkov said by telephone. "But bans that may seem strange are quite normal, especially in countries with legal systems based on precedent. Look at some of those idiotic American laws, like punishing a man who deceives a girl by promising to marry her and doesn't follow through."

Many of the 186 fineable offenses are mentioned in other laws, albeit without fines, causing some to complain the bill is merely an attempt to drum up more money. "The problem isn't that there aren't enough laws," said Pavel Astakhov, a lawyer. "The laws on the books are fine. The problem is that they aren't enforced properly. Moscow lawmakers are taking the wrong path. They think we need new laws, more new laws and even more new laws."

The new legislation calls for fines of 2,000 rubles for movie theater owners who fail to mention age restrictions on movie posters and fines of 1,000 rubles for school principals who refuse to enroll a child. Nightclub owners would have to pay 3,000 rubles if a customer is caught with drugs. Also facing fines are religious workers who aggressively distribute literature, metro passengers who wear clothes that might stain other passengers' clothing, and soccer fans who throw objects onto the field.

Semenninkov said the bill aimed to establish penalties for infractions that had previously been "declarative in nature." "There were bans but no punishment for violating them," he said.