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Owe $155? You’ve lost your Russian driving license

Russians owing as little as $155 could be banned from driving thanks to a new bill passed by lawmakers this week.

Russia's lower house of parliament — the Duma — on Tuesday passed a law that could see drivers' licenses revoked if they owe over 10,000 rubles ($154.50) in administrative fines, alimony or financial damages, according to the Duma's website.

A man walks along a street in central Moscow during a snowfall.
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV | AFP | Getty Images
A man walks along a street in central Moscow during a snowfall.

The new legislation will also apply to licenses needed to operate aircraft, boats, mopeds and motorcycles.

Local news agencies, citing an official from the Federal Bailiffs Services, reported that over 30,000 people could be hit by the new law.

It's the latest attempt by lawmakers to try to push Russians to pay off their debts and fines. Laws already exist that can ban citizens from travelling abroad for owing similar amounts of cash.

More bizarre tactics have been considered, though. The head of Russia's Federal Bailiff Service this year suggested that withholding marriage licenses would drive people to pay outstanding debts, according to local news site Meduza.


Indebted Russia

An economic recession, sharpened by economic sanctions, a weakening ruble and low oil prices, have heaped financial pressure on Russian consumers.

According to a September World Bank report, average wages fell by 8.5 percent in the first half of 2015 in Russia, which along with food price inflation helped to increase the poverty rate by 2 percent to 15.1 percent, representing around 21.7 million people.

Back in October, Russia passed a law to try ease the burden on debtors by allowing citizens owing over 500,000 rubles ($7,600), or those who prove they cannot pay their loans, to file for bankruptcy. Only companies and business partnerships were previously granted bankruptcy rights.

Though the bill still has to be signed off by Russia's upper house of parliament as well as President Vladimir Putin, the new law revoking drivers' licences could come into force as early as January 15, 2016.