Attracting some attention in Russian media today is proposed legislation by State Duma lawmaker Mikhail Degtyarev of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's controversial Liberal Democratic Party and former candidate for mayor of Moscow (where he got 2.86% of the vote), who seeks to ban dollar deposits and transactions at Russian banks warning that the U.S. dollar is on the brink of collapse. As Moscow Times reports, "Mikhail Degtyaryov said the dollar will collapse in 2017 if U.S. national debt continues to grow at the current rate, and he cautioned that countries with a high dependence on the currency would suffer an economic disaster... In light of this, the fact that confidence in the dollar is growing among Russian citizens is extremely dangerous," he said in an explanatory note attached to the bill, according to Interfax.
Degtyarev's proposed anti-USD capital controls would impose the ban within a year of its passage, and the holder of a dollar account would need to spend the money, convert it into another currency, or see the bank convert the account into rubles at the average rate for the previous year.
Russians could still buy and sell dollars while abroad, hold dollar deposits in foreign banks, and engage in e-commerce.
The legislation would not apply to the Central Bank, the government, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Federal Security Service and the Federal Treasury.
It was unclear when the bill might come up for a first hearing and whether it would find enough support in the pro-Kremlin legislature to be passed into law.
But before anyone scrambles to convert all their dollars into crisp rubles, keep in mind this is the same candidate who previously proposed banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood, paid days off for menstruating women, and has said he believes Russia will lead the world in vanquishing the Antichrist.
But that's just the beginning. FP recently did a full profile on Degtyarev:
Meet the man who not only would like to lead Moscow in battle against Satan, but would also like to give women two days leave from work every month during menstruation.
For Degtyarev, the battle between good and evil is one that plays out in intensely nationalist terms. "I can say as a believer that I believe in the apocalypse from the point of view of faith. And I think we must prepare," Degtyarev said on Friday. "I believe that we'll defeat the Antichrist -- I'm sure of it -- and that Russia will lead the fight against the Antichrist."
But Degtyarev has no patience for the portended apocalypses of other religions. Late last year, he launched a campaign to stop Russian media from reporting on the possibility that the end of the Mayan calendar foretold the end of the world. "In our compatriots' interests, we ask you to pay attention to the dissemination of pseudo-scientific information about the end of the world in your media," he said in addressing the coverage.
Incidentally, Degtyarev serves as the deputy head of the science and technology committee in the Duma.
But Degtyarev isn't just a kooky crusader for Christ. He's perhaps best known for his initiative to give women paid leave during menstruation. Last month, he introduced a bill in the Duma that would require employers to provide their female employees two days off every month during what he called their "critical days."
"In this period, the majority of women experience psychological and physical discomfort," Degtyarev said at the time. "Often the pain for the fair sex is so intense that they are forced to call an ambulance."
The language of that legislation reads like something of an homage to male condescension: "Strong pain induces heightened fatigue, reduces memory and work-competence and leads to colorful expressions of emotional discomfort. Therefore scientists and gynecologists look on difficult menstruation not only as a medical, but also a social problem."
Degtyarev's nationalism was on full display earlier this week during a visit to a traditional Russian bath house, where he made a shirtless appearance before the cameras clad only in a towel and a traditional Russian hat. In an interview, which you can view below, he declared that when the plague struck Europe, Russians were largely immune to the effects of the disease because of the restorative properties of the banya. Such are the powers, Degtyarev claims, of traditional Russian culture.
In other words, it is safe to assume the dollar will be widely used in Russia for a quite a while longer.
More importantly, the erosion of the dollar's credibility will not take thanks to the efforts of fringe lunatics abroad, but thanks to America's very own non-fringe lunatics, especially those located in the Marriner Eccles building.