While I do totally agree with you about the lack of the due process and the general stupidity of mandating masks outdoors, I — as a privacy-loving citizen — have a confession to make: I’m glad COVID-19 brought these mask-wearing rules, and I think it will be one of the things I’ll remember 2020 fondly for.

There’s a Federal Law in Russia (and a Federal Law is, like, a big deal) “About gatherings, meetings, demonstrations, processions, and picketings”, and in that Federal Law, there’s a clause that says a participant of a public event is not allowed to cover or hide his/her face. And the Administrative Offences Code of Russia (not the Criminal Code, but bad, too) says violating the legal rules of participating in a public event is grounds to a fine or up to 40 hours of public works. So you basically don’t want to cover your face in a public event, really. A lot of countries have similar regulations, but…

But I live in Moscow, and Moscow is quite unlike the rest of Russia in many ways (I used to live in St.-Petersburg for 6 years, and I’m originally from Kaliningrad aka Königsberg in Pr. where a big part of my family still lives, so I have grounds to compare). While it’s true Moscow has much more money, power, and opportunities than the rest of Russia combined, living in Moscow also has its drawbacks. And besides traffic and bad air, Moscow also houses the Federal Government, the Parliament (both Houses), and the President of Russia, and these people seem to really hate the idea of public unrest. It’s hard to blame them, history seems to attest that public unrest in Russia tends to be bloody and unfortunate for those in power. Anyway, the people currently in power seem to be very scared of what might happen, so Moscow police tend to be very repressive and harsh, and Moscow courts of law have even fewer rulings in favour of the defendant that the Russian average (which is, I believe, less than 1% anyway).

So, for years now I’ve been advised by lawyers to try and avoid covering my face in public places, in malls, on the subway, etc. — you never know what they’ll call a gathering (hence a public event), and you can never prove you didn’t aim to avoid recognition, especially in a country where any evidence from a defendant that a police officer is giving a false accusation can be dismissed because “the court has no reason to doubt the words of an officer of the law” (yep, Moscow courts use that a lot).

With COVID-19 they banned public events altogether (which is very bad, of course), but I’m no longer afraid to go out with my face covered. Which is ultimately a good thing privacy-wise in my book…

And thank you for the podcast — again! Please do continue!

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