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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 April, 2003, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Flap over Russian chicken fines
A chicken
The chickens are oblivious to their crime

For some chickens, the simple act of crossing a road is no joke. Indeed, for the chicken population of one Russian village, crossing the road has become rather an expensive pastime.

The inhabitants of Andreyevskaya in the southern Krasnodar region are up in arms after local police officers began fining chickens - or rather, their owners - when the birds were found wandering the streets unattended.

Police are imposing fines of 1,000 roubles (or 30 dollars) - which for the elderly villagers is more than their average monthly pension.

Feathers fly

Natalya Ustimenko, one of the pensioners affected, described her shock at receiving the fine.

I'm afraid we may have to get rid of the birds as we can't afford to pay the huge fines.
Lidiya Gerasimovna Kosogur

"I was just bowled over! It will take me ages to save up 1,000 roubles," she told Russian TV.

Another villager, Lidiya Gerasimovna Kosogur, said that, in any case, the chickens were no bother to anyone.

"The birds are not causing a nuisance. The village has all the right conditions for raising poultry, but I'm afraid we may have to get rid of the birds as we can't afford to pay the huge fines."

Laying down the law

Local officials insist that they are simply trying to ensure villagers abide by the law.

Chicken on Russian village road
Trespassers will be prosecuted

According to regulations passed some years ago, domestic animals are banned from walking along the roads unattended.

The villagers argue, however, that this has never been a problem before, and have refused to pay the penalties.

They say the police have acted illegally by fining them in absentia, and have won the district prosecutor's backing in the case.

As the dispute continues over who will rule the village roost, the chickens are continuing to roam free.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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