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Panty police
March 06, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Aha! The real reason Russians have been getting their you-know-what in a bunch has finally been exposed: those delicate unmentionables aren’t passing legal muster.

Come July 1, the thong is gone, the brief is banned, the bikini won’t see the light of day and the hipster will be anything but — at least if they happen to contain anything less than 94 percent cotton. The bottom line on these bottom coverings is that under a new law introduced two years ago the silky, the sheer and anything borderline synthetic will be prohibited from creation, sale and importation in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. America’s Olympic athletes craving a little Chobani might have thought they had it bad for a couple weeks jonesing for Greek yogurt because of the county’s stringent regulations but at least they weren’t facing a lifetime of granny panties and knickers straight out of Anna Karenina. What is a stylish Russian lady to do?

In the last weeks, what they’ve done is put on their big girl pants — along with lace underwear on their heads, literally — and take to the streets shouting “Freedom to panties.” Kind of makes those pro-union chats outside boycotted American businesses look so staid. “Hey ho, cotton briefs have got to go.” “What do we want? Underwear choice! When do we want it? Now!”

Here in the West, the protests over the Eurasian Union trade bloc are a welcome respite from the political upheaval elsewhere in the country. Mainly, this is because underwear and the desire to keep Big Brother out of one’s proverbial drawers is easy to understand.

Political unrest, not as easy to digest and spit out to the masses in any brief way. Ukraine? Why do people call it The Ukraine? Are they fans of The Donald or maybe all hailing from Southern California where “the” modifies every highway name? And Crimea? How long did it take to figure out the news pundits weren’t referencing a small brown mushroom?

The international news coverage also is another way to make all the broadcasters finally able to say the phrase “Pussy Riot” with a straight face able to squirm again.

The bean counters figure that 90 percent of the $4 billion worth of underwear sold in Russia each year will disappear if the ban takes effect. That’s a lot of panty dropping. And while this ban might help Soviet goods jockey for shelf space if the protests are any indication it isn’t going to do much to make them more desirable. The black market for the illegal underpinnings is bound to boom and what are the Russian authorities going to do, take a break from ferreting out and punishing gay propaganda pushers to conduct personal panty raids to ensure trade compliance?

The best way to hike something’s pop culture stock is to keep it just out of reach. Think about the Berlin Wall. East German teens were over the moon for anything American — Coca-Cola, designer jeans, David Hasselhoff. Case rested.

The Russian protesters are now left with two options. One: tell the powers that be to eat their shorts. While momentarily feeling better, the opponents probably won’t gain much ground with this tactic.

The other: forgo the frilly underthings and pick up arms. This is a fight against the fabric of a country and the foundation of freedom. It’s time to go commando.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



Tags: underwear, anything, their, russian,

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