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Russia Wants to Play Nice With Foreigners. Just Not Too Nice.

MOSCOW — In contemporary weeks, Russia has been engaged in a concerted effort to tame its routine xenophobic demons in anticipation of 500,000 overseas football enthusiasts descending at the nation for the International Cup that began Thursday. It has even arranged categories on the way to smile.

However some lawmakers it seems that ignored the memo.

One member of Parliament warned Russian ladies towards sound asleep with overseas males, particularly in the event that they had been from a special race. Some other cautioned even towards hugging guests from different continents, for the reason that they may well be rife with illness.

The following outcry was once loud and sharp, with many on social media evaluating the remarks to propaganda right through the 1980 Olympics, when the Soviet Union warned its voters towards chatting with foreigners. (In that generation, any communicate of intercourse was once strictly taboo.)

Russians, even though regularly big-hearted, may also be notoriously dour when coping with foreigners, in particular massive teams who don’t talk the language.

Smiling at any stranger is thought of as doubtful, in all probability even the signal of a feeble thoughts. There may be even a proverb about it: “Laughter with out reason why is a mark of fools.”

To triumph over that angle, more than a few coaching methods that will have accomplished Leave out Manners proud had been begun forward of the International Cup.

The smiling classes had been administered to workers of the Russian railroads who will probably be staffing the loose long-haul trains working between International Cup towns.

The Inside Ministry ordered all 11 host towns to deploy cops that would talk English, Chinese language, French and Spanish. (Moscow already had such officials close to main vacationer points of interest.)

It appears, some Russian football hooligans are being saved at bay. International Cup price ticket holders will have to download fan id playing cards proving they’ve been vetted through the safety services and products, and a few enthusiasts well-known for such things as racist chanting were denied them.

Given Russia’s hectic overseas family members in recent times connected to a string of showdowns with the West over Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, election meddling and different problems, the World Cup was seen as a chance to present a different image.

“Our people are very hospitable, and I am counting on those who come here leaving with totally good impressions,” Eleonora Mitrofanova, the head of an organization responsible for promoting Russia’s image, said at a news conference last month.

Then came the members of the Russian State Duma, or Parliament. It should be noted that the Duma has no real power, and normally serves as kind of a Greek chorus that echoes and amplifies the mood of the Kremlin.

Given that President Vladimir V. Putin has made “traditional values” a pillar of his presidency, Duma members try to outdo themselves proposing ideas that they think will please him. Hence laws like one banning gay propaganda and another decriminalizing domestic violence.

It was no great surprise that a few got into the act for the World Cup.

Speaking to a Moscow radio station on the eve of the first match, Tamara Pletnyova, the chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs in the lower house, came out with the warning about sex with foreign men. If the urge proved too strong, she added, at least choose a man from the same race.

Ms. Pletnyova, a member of the Communist Party, framed her advice as a way to protect the family, saying that such liaisons often produce single-parent homes. “These children suffer and have suffered, even since Soviet times,” she said in a summary of the interview posted by the station Govorit Moskva.

Then Aleksandr Sherin, the deputy chairman of the Duma’s Defense Committee, said the people arriving from around the world might spread infectious diseases, especially as Europeans came into contact with “people from other continents.”

The country cannot force visitors to take “chlorinated showers,” he said, since they “are coming to Russia, not a German concentration camp.”

He warned all Russians citizens to remain vigilant. He discouraged people from accepting chewing gum or cigarettes, and suggested avoiding the Russian habit of hugging or kissing people in greeting.

“I would warn against this,” said Mr. Sherin.

Ms. Pletnyova was widely accused of racism.

The outcry was such that even Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, was asked about it. He said Russian women were perfectly capable of deciding for themselves, and decried the fact that the comments had become a central focus of the day.

“I don’t think that this can or should be the main news,” he said, noting that a message on every ID card carried by fans reads, “Say no to racism.”

Follow Neil MacFarquhar on Twitter: @NeilMacFarquhar.

Sophia Kishkovsky and Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.

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