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
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.