‘Stay Away or Dress Right’ Russian Health Official Warns Protesters

MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s chief public health official has warned people thinking of joining the June 12 opposition rally to think again because of the “potential health risks” of being out at mass events in the hot weather, Russian media reported on Saturday.

“Judging by the weather forecast, the temperature is set to rise above 20 degrees [Celsius, 68 Fahrenheit] on June 12. It’ll be hot. Given the humidity, this is particularly physically stressful,” Gennady Onishchenko was quoted in the Russian media as saying on Saturday.

“You should dress appropriately for the weather, cover your head and make sure you have water with you,” he added. “People who are unwell or have colds should not take part in mass events,” he warned.

This is not the first time Onishchenko has warned Russians about what he describes as the health-risks of taking part in demonstrations.

Ahead of protests in December against alleged vote-rigging in favor of the ruling United Russia party, Onishchenko suggested Russians stay home – to cut their risk of catching cold.

Onishchenko is well-known in Russia for his ‘left-field’ comments on a wide range of issues, from the health benefits of school uniforms to the dangers of yoghurt drinks.

Ahead of this year’s 10-day long New Year holidays in Russia, he warned that the period would be “10 days of hell.”

“Most of our citizens will be left to their own devices. And there is no worse enemy for a Russian than himself,” Gennady Onishchenko told journalists in December.

The June 12 protest was given the green light by the Moscow authorities in late May.

Dubbed the “March Against the Executioners,” the rally will highlight the so-called “Bolotnaya Cases” – a reference to the people arrested and charged following an anti-Kremlin rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in May 2012.

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