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The Latest Wacky Duma Bill: A Holiday Marking The 'Taking Of Paris'

A depiction by painter Horace Vernet of an 1812 battle near Vitebsk between Russian and French troops
A depiction by painter Horace Vernet of an 1812 battle near Vitebsk between Russian and French troops

MOSCOW -- Two Russian lawmakers wanted to establish a new national holiday marking tsarist Russia's 19th-century victory over France in the Napoleonic wars.

But the government said: Not so fast.

Mikhail Degtyarov of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Andrei Krasov of the ruling United Russia party submitted a bill to the State Duma making March 31 the "Day of Taking Paris."

In a note accompanying the bill, the two wrote that it was necessary "to rejuvenate the historical tradition of celebrating the victory of Russia in the Patriotic War of 1812."

The proposed legislation came just a week after Paris was rocked by a terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Russian government, however, quickly poured cold water on the proposal. In a note submitted to the Duma, it said adding a new national holiday would be too costly in a time of economic crisis.

"The establishment of a new day of military glory will require additional expenses for the federal budget. But the necessary cost estimates were not included in the financial economic justification [for the legislation] that was presented," the note said.

The government also pointed out that the proposed March 31 date was "incorrect and does not correspond with historical facts." Media reports claimed that Russian troops entered Paris on March 30, 1814.

According to historical accounts, Russian troops were on the outskirts of Paris on March 30. But they entered, led by Tsar Aleksandr I and together with Prussian and Austrian troops, on March 31 following the French capital's surrender.

The Duma in recent years has gained a measure of notoriety for strange legislative proposals -- including banning high heels, painting the Kremlin white, and changing the colors of the Russian flag -- that never see the light of day.

Yevgeny Fyodorov, a lawmaker with United Russia, told in December that they were often simply efforts by deputies to attract attention to themselves.

“It's theater," Fyodorov said. "There's nothing to be surprised about here. A respectable person wouldn't be surprised upon arriving in a theater to see a famous artist dressed in some rags making faces on stage. It's the same with the Duma. The authors of such bills understand that they are not making them to be adopted, but for the spectacle."