Skip to main content

Protests over Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan 'ban' on lacy underwear

By Ivana Kottasova, CNN
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)
  • Post-Soviet customs union "bans" undergarments that contain less then 6% cotton
  • This includes fine lingerie -- most is made of materials with 4% of cotton and less
  • Several Kazakh women were detained by the police after protesting against the ban

(CNN) -- Lacy underwear has effectively been "banned" by new regulations in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, opponents say. But the issue is not one of modesty.

A customs union made up of the three post-Soviet countries introduced a regulation, which requires clothing in contact with skin to contain at least 6% of cotton, for safety reasons.

From July, underwear that does not meet this requirement will not be available in stores in the economic area. Production and import of these will also stop.

The regulations say this is designed to protect consumers against synthetic garments which don't absorb enough moisture. That could cause skin problems.

However, most luxury lingerie is made of materials with less than 4% cotton -- and will not be allowed.

Despite its supposed health benefit, the regulation has been badly received in Kazakhstan. Several Kazakh women were reportedly detained by the police in Almaty after protesting against the ban.

Scores of women have posted pictures of themselves in lacy underwear on social networks and compared the photos to images of Soviet-era style brown, shapeless underwear.

"Producers have known about the regulations for about 10 years," the customs union's regulation minister Valery Koreshkov said in a publicly released statement, adding the news should not be a surprise.

The union's regulation ТR СU 017/2011 was passed by the lawmakers in 2011, but will only come into effect this July. Other undergarments and linens are also affected.

But the reaction is putting union officials under pressure from textile producers and shoppers. In the same statement, Koreshkov said the union had already received several amendment proposals. Technical regulations are "not a dogma" and can change, the statement said. "These proposals should be considered by all the experts."

The customs union of the three counties was formed in 2010, and is moving towards a full European Union -style trade union. The Eurasian Customs Union is set to be formalized in 2015 and expected to expand to other countries in the region.

Part of complete coverage on
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.