- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2018

Would-be Russian duelists had better be en garde — the government is watching.

A Russian lawmaker in the State Duma this week submitted a draft bill designed to regulate duels, one day after a former top aide to President Vladimir Putin “demanded satisfaction” from one of the president’s leading opponents and threatened to turn him into a “tenderized beefsteak” if and when the two men meet.

Viktor Zolotov, Mr. Putin’s former security aide and now head of Russia’s National Guard, issued the duel challenge to opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a menacing 7-minute video on Tuesday, shortly after Mr. Navalny accused top leaders of the Guard of approving corrupt contracts.

“I challenge you to single combat — in the ring, on the judo mat, wherever, and I promise to make juicy, tenderized beefsteak out of you,” Mr. Zolotov said at one point, according to Russian media accounts.

Although it was not clear how serious the duel challenge was, the Moscow Times reported Thursday that Sergey Ivanov, a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, dropped his draft bill in the hopper the next day. The proposed “Code on Dueling” would limit duels to those of “equal seniority” and would permit only state officials to participate in handgun or sword duels.

If a woman commits a qualifying offense, the insulted party can challenge her “natural protector” to a duel, according to the bill.

Mr. Navalny, currently serving a 30-day sentence for organizing what the Kremlin called illegal anti-government demonstrations, did not comment on the bill, but his wife Yulia mocked the challenge online.

“This is a threat from an insolent thug, who relishes his impunity,” she wrote on her Instagram account. “I despise him as a thief and a coward.”

No hearing on the bill has been set in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian national legislature.

Although currently outlawed, Russia has a long history of dueling. Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov, considered two of the country’s greatest poets, were both killed in duels in the mid-19th century.

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