Fines for ‘Johns’: Leftist MP prepares bill ordering penalties for prostitutes’ clients

Reuters / Ilya Naymushin
A Russian lawmaker intends to draft a bill introducing fines and community service for using the services of prostitutes. The existing draft suggests lighter punishment for single people and significantly harsher sanctions for married men and women.

Oleg Mikheyev of the center-left Fair Russia party wants to amend the administrative code with a new article specifically describing using sex services for money as an offence. The proposed punishment varies depending from the marital status of the offender – single people would have to pay between 1,500 and 2,000 rubles ($26-$35) in fines, but married clients, men and women alike, would face either fines of between 2,000 and 5,000rubles ($35 - $88) or perform up to 40 hours of community service.

The proposed penalty is in the same range as the fines for prostitution itself and Mikheyev said in press comments that one of the reasons he wrote the bill was the desire to make the conditions equal for the workers and clients in the sex industry. Currently, prostitution in Russia is punishable by an administrative fine of between 1,500 and 2,000 rubles ($26-$35) and pimping (defined as receiving income from another person’s work as a prostitute) can carry fines between 2,000 and 2,500 rubles ($35-$44) or up to 10 days of administrative detention.

READ MORE: Russian pro-business party plans legalization of prostitution- leader

In 2012, southern Russia’s Belgorod Region introduced a local law ordering a fine of 5,000 rubles ($88) for people caught paying for sex services.

Mikheyev said in comments that his suggestions would help to combat prostitution more effectively than the existing norms as they undermine the economics of the sex services sector. He also pointed out that similar measures had worked in foreign countries, for example in Sweden and Norway.

He also said that tougher punishment for married people was caused by the fact that these people have more responsibilities before the community.

When a married man pays for sex he is committing a much more serious offense – he hides money from the family budget and puts his wife at risk of getting an STD,” he explained.

According to the head of the Russian ‘Vice Squad’ foundation, Vladimir Zazhmilin, every third man in Russia has used prostitutes’ services at least once.

READ MORE: Clients must marry prostitutes or face jail – St Pete deputy

Izvestia broke the story about Mikheyev’s bill the week after Russian police raided the offices of the Flirt magazine – a free glossy edition that specialized on advertising of dating agencies. The chief editor and commercial director of the magazine were detained and charged with organizing a prostitution ring – a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison. Both deny any involvement in criminal activities and said that their work was only in the sphere of information and advertising.

In 2014, St. Petersburg city lawmaker Olga Galkina from the pro-business party Civil Platform drafted a bill ordering fines up to $2,400 for using sex services, but also proposing the clients be allowed to escape the punishment if they marry the prostitute. This bill did not make it through the city legislature.