Russia Considers Limiting State Procurement of Foreign Condoms

Russia limit import condoms
A member of Russian Liberal Democrats LDPR party distributes free condoms in Moscow, December 1, 2004, promoting awareness about HIV/AIDS. Alexander Natruskin CVI/SM/Reuters

Russia could ban the government procurement of medical goods including bandages, tampons and condoms from all but three foreign states, according to a draft law submitted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

It is not immediately clear why the Russian government would consider such a legal move, however it comes less than a week after Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine joined EU-members in imposing economic sanctions on Russia. The sanctions have severely limited European cooperation with Russian banks and the Russian energy sector, as well as frozen European assets of individuals perceived close to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The draft of the law was uploaded to the Russian state's official online public forum this week and Russian citizens will have a fortnight to submit their opinions on the draft. As per usual procedure, the document is currently undergoing a mandatory review by a government-selected panel of corruption experts which will be completed by Sunday.

The draft suggests that around 100 medical goods cease to be available for procurement by the Russian government from any countries other than Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. The list includes medical bandages, wheelchairs, walking canes, a wide selection of crutches, orthopedic footwear, antiseptic treatments, wound dressings, latex condoms, parts for X-ray scanners, defibrillators and tampons.

This potential restriction would apply solely to goods purchased through the country's procurement system which sees local, regional or national authorities place orders, either on their behalf or on behalf of their constituencies. The law does not suggest a wholesale ban on international imports of these goods for the Russian health services who would still be able to place orders for these goods, independently of the government.

However, some health services have taken advantage of the procurement system until now. Condoms, for example, have previously been purchased by Russian local authorities in order to help them combat the spread of AIDS.

In 2011 authorities in the Altay region purchased condoms on behalf of local public health centers, while in 2009 the city authorities of St. Petersburg used the system to purchase condoms which were given away to young people in public spaces, in night clubs and even in schools.

Should the restrictions be approved, they will not apply to Russian embassies or consulates internationally. The Ministry was not immediately available to comment on potential political implications of this draft.