April 24, 2006

  • Here’s an idea I, for one, hope stays in Moscow and does not migrate over here:  April is apparently “clean car month”, with drivers facing fines for illegally dirty cars.  As may be imagined, this subjective ordinance provides unscrupulous traffic police with a wonderful opportunity to collect bribes.

    Dmitry acknowledges, in a rare openness about problems in Russia, that accepting bribes is a long-standing, if not particularly cherished, tradition by that nation’s police officers.  It’s been difficult getting him to really accept that while there is the occasional dishonest policeman here who will ask for or accept a bribe, the odds are offering one would probably be extremely counterproductive, resulting in a trip to the police station.

    Moscow radio stations have been encouraging drivers to not knuckle under, informing them of their rights.

    I thought this was funny:

    The website of the newspaper Izvestiya asked its readers
    for their views, and 46% agreed a car was dirty if the number plate was
    not visible.

    Twenty three per cent said it was if the car had “wash
    me” written on it, 22% if the make or the colour of the car could not
    be determined. A stubborn 9% maintained that a car was dirty only if
    the actual driver was invisible.

Comments (5)

  • LOL. The 9% might be in trouble even here. I don’t know how this applies, but in a lot of states, tinted windows that obscure the front seat are illegal. If you use dirt, instead of professionally applied tint, is it still illegal?

    You know, most countries outside of Western Europe and North America (excepting a certain large North American country not far from you and many of those to the south of it) — whether Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, etc. — function that way WRT to police. “The policeman is your friend” is a uniquely western concept, and even where they’re not a terror to the innocent, they’re usually at least a threat to your pocketbook.

    Just another one of those blessings we so easily overlook, regarding peace officers in general as being “on our side,” where much of the world isn’t able to look at it that way.

  • I wonder what the rules are in TX concerning tinted windows. I see these big black SUV’s with dark tinted windows and would hate to stop one for a traffic violation. I drive a sedan and can’t see through or around them. Plus they all talk on their cell phones. Hmmm, You can tell I’m not of this generation.

  • This is why it is always best to own a dirt-color car. My new one is tan. Excellent.

    Tangent: Asylum seekers sometimes run into trouble getting U.S. authorities to believe their cases because they have such a hard time trusting people in uniform (and therefore don’t tell their stories the right way or at the right time or to the right people) and the authorities just don’t get that the association of “police” with “untrustworthy” is perfectly reasonable given where these people are coming from — places where worse things than petty extortion have happened to them.

  • Which is why, though I think that illegal immigration is a genuine problem, it just doesn’t make sense for Americans to be so up in arms over the fact that illegals are “breaking the law.” Where many of them come from, looking at a cop the wrong way could be grounds for being told they’re breaking a law — while yes, it’s law-breaking, and no, I don’t excuse it, they just don’t have the moral association with law-breaking (that it is almost always bad because good people generally don’t break laws) that we do.

  • Those are very apt observations, Valerie and Jane…very apt indeed.

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