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Thread: Interesting article in New York Times

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    Interesting article in New York Times

    Slow Down and Hide Your Wallet: Traffic Police Ahead

    By SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY
    Published: April 26, 2006

    MOSCOW — They are creatures of urban legend and the target of endless jokes in this exhaust-filled, car-clogged megalopolis. Burly men in baggy uniforms, Moscow's traffic inspectors are lampooned for creating monstrous traffic jams and their readiness to take or solicit a bribe, and blamed for everything from bad roads to terrorist attacks.

    Such fear do they strike in drivers that a life-size mock-up of a traffic officer in a city south of Moscow was enough to cut violations significantly.

    But despite their outsize reputation, said Officer Sergei Moskalyov, "You can't make traffic inspectors out to be from another world."

    Perched behind the wheel of his blue-and-white Lada with a rattling door ("It's a domestic car," he said), in his warm inspector's jacket, Mr. Moskalyov is king of the road.

    An eight-year veteran of the State Auto Inspection force, familiarly known by its acronym as the GAI (pronounced gah-EE), Mr. Moskalyov said he tried to be philosophical about the criticism. "Not everybody will love you," he said during a recent tour of his beat along the Garden Ring, the multilane inner beltway that runs for about nine miles around the city center.

    To many people here, the road's name is a cruel joke. On a good day, the traffic moves at around 10 to 15 miles an hour, slows to a crawl during rush hour and has been known to bottleneck even at midnight. The exhaust could kill anything green.

    Many drivers gripe that the jams are made worse by the traffic inspectors, who stand at every major intersection. Common wisdom is that they are after drivers' rubles in the form of fines, or bribes paid to avoid the fines.

    Mr. Moskalyov retorts that Russia's low fines for minor violations — some of less than $2 for infractions like driving an improperly registered or inspected vehicle, failing to signal before turning or moderate speeding — encourage a cavalier attitude.

    "Show me an inspector who asks for money," said Mr. Moskalyov, who agreed to be interviewed only after being authorized to speak with a reporter. However, he allowed, "It's another story when drivers offer money."

    Indeed, in Russia, petty corruption is a two-way street, with many drivers admitting they prefer to pay a bribe of less than $10 than wait for a traffic inspector to fill out the necessary form for a tiny fine that must be paid at Sberbank, the state bank, known for long lines.

    Mr. Moskalyov, 36, is thoughtful and well-spoken. Asked about the city's patience with traffic jams, he noted that Muscovites were used to waiting. "We had a hard life before," he said, referring to the Soviet-era plague of long lines for food and other necessities. "It's like standing in line."

    Moscow counts more than 3.2 million registered cars, and every workday millions more come to the capital from the surrounding region.

    Sparkling Audis, Mercedeses and the occasional Bentley share the capital's thoroughfares with rusty but hardy Soviet-era Zhigulis, Moskvich hatchbacks and Kamaz trucks. The traffic is worsened by bureaucrats' cars topped with blue flashing lights that have the right of way in traffic jams, which they often cause.

    On his beat, Mr. Moskalyov alternates between cruising in his patrol car and standing at some of Moscow's busiest intersections.

    "I do my job," he said at a crossroads near the United States Embassy, one of Moscow's seven Stalinist-era skyscrapers, a new shopping mall and a billboard advertising Il Patio pizza chain's Mafia Grill. "I ensure safety."

    As he spoke, Mr. Moskalyov waved down a driver in a Mazda who he said had swerved suspiciously while making a turn. After a quick document check, he praised the young woman for wearing a seat belt and let her go without a fine.

    "It is very rare to see someone wearing a seat belt for her own safety," he said, admitting that he often does not.

    According to police statistics, nearly 34,000 people died in traffic accidents in Russia last year. In Moscow, 213 people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of 2006. (In New York City, only 298 people were killed in traffic accidents in all of 2004.)

    When Mr. Moskalyov is on the morning shift, he rises at 5 a.m., downs coffee, bread and cheese, and makes it to work in 20 minutes. It's the only time of day when the road into town is clear.

    Shortly after 6 a.m. he is at his unit's station, in a prerevolutionary mansion with no visible traces of its former grandeur, just cramped quarters, broken tiles, a basement cafe and a pool table. The walls are hung with photographs of Gaishniki, as members of the force are called, who were killed in the line of duty, and a huge red-and-white sign declaring "The Chief Responsibility of the Militia Is to Honestly and Conscientiously Serve the People."

    One wall is taken up with an idealized stained-glass image of a Soviet-era Gaishnik that could probably be sold for a fortune as pop art.

    If Mr. Moskalyov seems like a Potemkin Gaishnik, his home life could be a sitcom-perfect version of post-Soviet middle-class Moscow, featuring a parakeet, an adorable dog, a cat named Diva and teenage daughters, Anya and Olya, who haunt the nearby Mega Mall on weekends.

    Mr. Moskalyov said the family's combined monthly income of 72,000 rubles, about $2,600, covered annual vacations, partly subsidized by the GAI. Last year, the family traveled to Tunisia, which, like Turkey and Egypt, has become an affordable package-tour destination for many Muscovites.

    Mr. Moskalyov said he loved the mosaics in Carthage, and was fascinated to learn that female drivers there are not stopped after dark, a rule, he said, intended to protect male traffic officers from temptation.

    That rationale, he said, proves his point about traffic inspectors, one that many a Muscovite might beg to differ with. "We are all people," he said, "like everyone else."
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
    I am a notourriouse misspeller. Be easy on me.
    Пожалуйста! Исправляйте мои глупые ошибки (но оставьте умные)!
    Yo hablo español mejor que tú.
    Trusnse kal'rt eturule sikay!!! ))

  2. #2
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    В России, как известно, две беды. Когда они объединились, появились ГАИшники.

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    Ha! I knew I read this several days ago and not in the NYT and I was right! It was actually first published in the IHT on April 24. Why that's important I don't know, but for some reason it bothered me...
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    I'm confused with his salary. 72,000 a month is too much for him. I strongly suspect that he takes bribes after all.
    Единственное, что люди любят давать бесплатно - это советы.

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    monthly income of 72,000 rubles, about $2,600,
    Моcквичи, москвичи, москвичи...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisquit
    I'm confused with his salary. 72,000 a month is too much for him. I strongly suspect that he takes bribes after all.
    Там написано: family combined monthly income. Очевидно, его жена тоже зарабатывает (не удивлюсь, если получше). Но, вообще-то, сумма вполне приличная.
    Кр. -- сестр. тал.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Indra
    В России, как известно, две беды. Когда они объединились, появились ГАИшники.


    Honestly, I missed the point of the article. Why is it interesting?
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisquit
    I'm confused with his salary. 72,000 a month is too much for him. I strongly suspect that he takes bribes after all.
    You think?
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

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    This level of income is very good for an ordinary гаишник even so he lives in Moscow where wages are astronomic in comparison with an income of an average Russian in Europen part of Russia. Just my opinion, don't treat it as absolute true.
    Единственное, что люди любят давать бесплатно - это советы.

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    I saw this on the BBC site a couple days ago, I guess this is as good as any place to post it:

    Drivers in Moscow are currently facing what the city authorities have declared "clean car month".

    Many cars have been out of use over the harsh winter. But motorists who fail to ensure that their vehicles are free of dirt and grime are liable to be fined.

    Needless to say, it is not popular with car owners who are are questioning the legality of the move.

    They say it is just an opportunity for unscrupulous traffic policemen to fine drivers.

    In winter, some Russians simply keep their cars off the streets. Blizzards make driving difficult.

    Temperatures of -20C and below can cause cars to seize up completely. In spring, vehicles reappear on the roads as if from hibernation.

    Degrees of dirt

    Motorists argue that Russian law is only broken if the number plates are obscured by grime.

    Many traffic policemen, car owners say, take advantage of drivers' ignorance of the law to demand fines for offences real or imagined, or bribes to look the other way.

    Motoring programmes on Moscow radio stations have been informing drivers of their rights, and encouraging them to challenge officers who stop them.

    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.
    I'm easily amused late at night...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barmaley
    Ha! I knew I read this several days ago and not in the NYT and I was right! It was actually first published in the IHT on April 24. Why that's important I don't know, but for some reason it bothered me...
    Well, IHT and NYT are basically the same newspaper. Both are published by the New York Times Company...
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
    I am a notourriouse misspeller. Be easy on me.
    Пожалуйста! Исправляйте мои глупые ошибки (но оставьте умные)!
    Yo hablo español mejor que tú.
    Trusnse kal'rt eturule sikay!!! ))

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scorpio
    Quote Originally Posted by Bisquit
    I'm confused with his salary. 72,000 a month is too much for him. I strongly suspect that he takes bribes after all.
    Там написано: family combined monthly income. Очевидно, его жена тоже зарабатывает (не удивлюсь, если получше). Но, вообще-то, сумма вполне приличная.
    А кто знает, может и дети у него работают... у него же две дочки...
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
    I am a notourriouse misspeller. Be easy on me.
    Пожалуйста! Исправляйте мои глупые ошибки (но оставьте умные)!
    Yo hablo español mejor que tú.
    Trusnse kal'rt eturule sikay!!! ))

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    Им тоже, наверное, водители хорошие деньги платят.
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

  14. #14
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    Эта статья не улучшит дурную славу милиционеров, вместо этого, уверит людей в том, что они берут взятки.

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    Deleted by me...I

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    Quote Originally Posted by capecoddah
    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.
    Hahaha, that's excellent. "Stubborn" is an understatement.
    Ленин пил
    Ленин пьёт
    Ленин будет пить

  17. #17
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    It would probably take only two to three days to be completely covered in mud and salt from the winter roads in Moscow.
    I've got a TV, and I'm not afraid to use it

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    Quote Originally Posted by adoc
    It would probably take only two to three days to be completely covered in mud and salt from the winter roads in Moscow.
    Or the blood of whatever poor bastard they ran over that day. Seriously, Russian driving = the $ux0r.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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