Well we have left the great nation now and have enjoyed it immensely – especially the massive difference between North and South Russia- both in terms of climate and ethnicity and friendliness of the people. But one thing has been consistent across the Motherland – and that is the bizarre behaviour of the road police.
We have been pulled over now about 20 times and on at least half of those the culvert cops have trumped up a false charge to try and extract money from us. We were warned that they see foreign motorists as mobile ATMs but we never thought the petty corruption would be as trenchant as it is. It really is an aspect of Russia that should be cleaned up immediately – the behaviour of these jerks is pathetic and evidence of a society that hasn’t really grown up yet.
Having said that we are pleased to report that we didn’t hand over one single kopeck to police extortion and we ended up becoming so relaxed in these situations we started playing our own games at each roadblock just to get the local Andy Griffith and his Gomer Pyles wound up and shouting in full voice. Our tactics to frustrate their attempted extortion included taking photos and movies of them even when told not to, including marching into their police posts and doing it, pretending to make phones on our satellite phones to higher authorities, laughing in exaggerated derision when they drew diagrams to illustrate offences they’d invented, and simply telling them to “fuck off” when invited to get in the car with them, and then demanding the write out a ticket if they want to lay a charge. That always worked as the roubles they were after were strictly for their back pocket, not for the Moscow treasury.
The photo shows Roger & Chris being marched back to the scene of one of our alleged “crimes” by a Keystone Cop.
I’d put our success over the Russian police on a par with our achievement in Egypt last year running every roadblock put out to stop us, and avoiding every convoy detail sent to accompany us. It has been an enjoyable part of the trip, particularly since Moscow when our appetite for adventure and risk has lifted measurably.
But seriously, Moscow needs to do something about the country’s road police – they are a laughing stock. There are heaps of them – no doubt part of the sociopathic condition prevailing since the command and control communist society collapsed. But all these dopes need something useful to do, rather than pollute the highways with their idle presence.