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  #1  
Old 5 Mar 2011
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russian police

ive been reading lots of threads, posts and trip reports while planning my trip, seems like the police can be a problem.
apart from sticking to the rules of the road, is there any advice on how to deal with them when we get stopped? most advice ive seen so far is about haggling the size of fine/bribe.
paul
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  #2  
Old 5 Mar 2011
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Ive been to Russia a few time and never once been stopped or harassed by the police and i did pass plenty police cars and checkpoints. Lithuania the Police were a bit aggressive and wanting a bribe but I just kept smiling handed them my in order papers and never made any offer of a bribe I was let on my way after a short delay. I ws also stopped by a russian army patrol who mainly wanted cigarettes - as I dont smoke I had none then after a look around the bike and a bit of broken conversation - I was on my way. Maybe I was lucky or maybe others have been unlucky. Keep within the speed limits, smile a lot if stopped and have all your papaers in order and ready to check. Make sure everything on your bike is working and correct. In my opinion its not as corrupt as people make out.
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  #3  
Old 5 Mar 2011
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Russia is much less of a problem than surrounding countries like Ukraine or Kazakhstan, where they often make up offences, to extort bribes.

In Russia these days, if you get pulled over its either for a routine document check or because you genuinely broke a road rule. The most common offences are speeding and crossing a solid single white line in the middle of the road. If you break a road rule, then you have to be prepared to pay the fine. Just like anywhere else in the world.

Fortunately in Russia there are two advantages to being caught breaking road rules than in your home country:
(1) You dont lose any points
(2) You get the option of paying a 50% reduced penalty if you pay direct to the policeman, and dont ask for a receipt.

Note, if you decide NOT to take advantage of the second benefit, then you will not only have to pay the full fine, but you may also get to spend 2-3 hours with the Russian traffic police while they process your paperwork. They are unlikely to be thrilled at this prospect and therefore may choose to see if there are any other problems with your paperwork while they are at it. i.e. if you make it hard for them, dont expect them to want to make it easy for you ...

In contrast, the process of paying the "reduced penalty" is relatively straight forward. You sit down in the back of the police car, put your payment together inside your documents (drivers licence and registration papers) and hand them all together to the traffic cops.

They will return your paperwork about 5 seconds later (less the cash) with a smile and an "everything is in order, you may go sir".

Note, speeding is a relatively minor offence in Russia and a relatively small penalty. Crossing a white line is more serious and will be more expensive.
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Old 5 Mar 2011
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Drinking and Driving in Russia

As an afterthought ...

Russia is FAR MORE STRICT on drinking and driving than Western Europe. Until very recently the only acceptable blood alcohol concentration was 0.00%.

That has been ever so slightly relaxed, such that trace elements of alcohol from yesterdays drinking are less likely to cause a problem. But if they see people on bikes drinking a at lunch, dont be surprised to see them waiting for you down the road.

Most Russians I know will not even drink non alcoholic , because if they get pulled over, it still smells like to the traffic police, and that can still lead to several hours with the police and a blood sample or two being taken, before they are confident enough to believe you that it was non-alcoholic .

As a rule of thumb in Russia and surrounding states ... drink ONLY after you have finished the days riding.

Even the discount rate penalty for driving with alcohol in your blood will cost you about 1500 - 2000 EUR.

Edit: everytime I wrote b-e-e-r it comes up as .
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  #5  
Old 5 Mar 2011
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Hi, I have travelled in many Eastern European countries inc Moldova, Ukraine & Russia and have never had any problems, whenever stopped in Russia at local check points a flash of my passport usually got you waved through. Andy
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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Colebatch is 100% correct. The Russian police "problem" is greatly exaggerated, it is really not that big of a deal if you follow Colebatch's pointers.

The best thing to do to avoid speeding to simply follow the locals' que. If everyone slows down, you should too. Also, Russian drivers are quite good about flashing their headlights for oncoming drivers when they pass a police car on the side of the road.

Again, as Colebatch says, crossing a white line is a big no-no, so don't do it. This can be frustrating because Russian roads are slathered in no-passing zones for no apparent reason. Nonetheless, I've found that if you wait a bit, Russian drivers will often edge to the right of their lane, leaving enough space for you to pass them without crossing into the other lane, or at least you can pass them ON the white line. I've never been pulled over as a result.

Finally, to repeat Colebatch again, don't ever drink and drive, the Russians check quite frequently, and if you are caught with any amount of alcohol, you're ****ed. If you can get of out trouble at all (not certain), it will cost you very dearly.
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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police

thanks for the replies,
eased a few concerns, one guy i spoke to, he was on an organised tour,
lots of bikes, was telling of being stopped as may as three times a day, and the cops radioing ahead to inform others of the cash rolling into town.
there are six of us, prob a good idea to travel in two groups and catch up at regular intervals.
thanks, paul.
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
Fortunately in Russia there are two advantages to being caught breaking road rules than in your home country:
(1) You dont lose any points
(2) You get the option of paying a 50% reduced penalty if you pay direct to the policeman, and dont ask for a receipt.
I belive those two things work however option three is not to pay any unlegal bribes to officers (which encourages to continue it) on the road and not to speak russian and pretend you dont understand anything. I was stopped last summer when i turned over white line when i was leaving petrol station.

I spoke only finnish, refused to pay sum of 150 euros or 1500 USD on the road to the police and after some time police realised they are not getting any money from me, the paperwork they have to do to do it officially takes too much time and they told me to get of out the car and not to do it again.
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by Tirpse View Post
...
I was stopped last summer when i turned over white line when i was leaving petrol station.
...
So, if I understand correctly, you already break the law of the "white line" if you ride along and turn into a gas station on the left side? (i.e. requiring a left turn over a white line, and back out again...?)
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  #10  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geordy paul View Post
thanks for the replies,
eased a few concerns, one guy i spoke to, he was on an organised tour,
lots of bikes, was telling of being stopped as may as three times a day, and the cops radioing ahead to inform others of the cash rolling into town.
there are six of us, prob a good idea to travel in two groups and catch up at regular intervals.
thanks, paul.
Just dont break the road rules, and you will only ever be stopped for document checks. If your docs are in order, and you dont break the road rules, then you wont have a problem with the cops.

Another tip ... respect the traffic cops. No-one likes them, but dont give them lip or attitude. They do have the power to make your life unpleasant if they think you are trying to make life difficult for them. People who are polite to cops (anywhere in the world for that matter) are less likely to have issues with them in the longer run. Common sense really.
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  #11  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by T.REX63 View Post
So, if I understand correctly, you already break the law of the "white line" if you ride along and turn into a gas station on the left side? (i.e. requiring a left turn over a white line, and back out again...?)
Correct. If there is a solid white line, you can NOT cross it. If there is a solid line in the middle of the highway next to a petrol station then only traffic on that same side of the road can use it. You might be able to go down the road 500 yards and see a gap in the white line, then you can do a U-Turn there and go back to the petrol station. If you are unlucky there may be no gap in the white line for 10 km. Thats the breaks
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Last edited by colebatch; 6 Mar 2011 at 13:38.
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  #12  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by Tirpse View Post
I belive those two things work however option three is not to pay any unlegal bribes to officers (which encourages to continue it) on the road and not to speak russian and pretend you dont understand anything. I was stopped last summer when i turned over white line when i was leaving petrol station.

I spoke only finnish, refused to pay sum of 150 euros or 1500 USD on the road to the police and after some time police realised they are not getting any money from me, the paperwork they have to do to do it officially takes too much time and they told me to get of out the car and not to do it again.
I have done this on occasion in Russia too but I dont like to do it, am not proud of doing it and I dont agree with it on principle.

I think if you break the rules, and the police catch you breaking the rules, then you are due to pay a penalty - anywhere in the world.

Being dishonest and pretending not to understand what they are saying, or dishonestly pretending you didn't know you did something wrong when you know you did, is hardly principled behaviour either.

The reality is Police there get pretty low wages, and the state de facto recognises that they get much of their income via "tips". If you get pulled over for something you plainly didnt do, and the offence is made up, then thats one thing. But if you have broken the road laws, and you know it, and they catch you out ... then you owe someone a fine. Whether its the state (who would then pay it back to the Police via higher wages) or you pay it directly to the Police ... i.e. whether you pay the police indirectly (like in the west) or directly (like in Russia) ... I dont see a big difference.

The difference to me is did you commit the offence or not - not whether you pay the police directly or indirectly. If you are 100% sure that you did not commit an offence, then by all means stand your ground, refuse to pay, act ignorant etc. But if you know you have broken the traffic laws ... then you have broken the traffic laws. You have to shrug your shoulders and say "he got me - he won that round"

Dont get me wrong, I am no goody two shoes on Russian roads ... sometimes I dont feel like taking the risk and sit on 95 km/h by my GPS. Sometimes I feel like blasting along ... but if I blast along the road, I know I am gambling 500 rubles and have it ready in my pocket in case I do get caught.

As for crossing white lines ... Its obviously been targetted by the Russian authorities as a high risk activity, presumably because many accidents have resulted from it. The police have a perfectly legitimate interest therefore in trying to enforce that rule. As in any country, the means of enforcement is by penalising drivers who break the rule. You may not like who you pay the penalty to, but the job of enforcing the road rules is a perfectly legitimate one, as is the practise of extracting financial penalties from those caught breaking the rules.

Financial penalties for breaking road rules is pretty standard global practise as a deterrent to stop people breaking those road rules in future.

I dont feel that westerners should think they can ride through Russia with some sort of immunity from road rules (especially on the grounds that they dont like the payment system) - or with the belief that ignorance of the local road rules is some form of defence. As in any country in the world, its theoretically the responsibility of the visiting driver / rider to make himself aware of the local road rules and penalties.

If you do the crime, you have to be prepared to do the time.

I dont think Russian drivers in Finland can break the road rules and expect extra leniency from the Finnish police compared to Finnish drivers. Similarly I dont think Finnish drivers should expect to be treated any differently to Russian drivers in Russia. And a Russian driver, in your case, would have been required to "pay the penalty".
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Last edited by colebatch; 6 Mar 2011 at 17:32.
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  #13  
Old 6 Mar 2011
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I got stopped a lot on my last trip (mainly 'stans and russia). I found that taking your glove and helmet off and shaking hands straight away went a long way. I also carried a bit of map that had my whole route on it so I could explain what I was up to, didn't speak the language and was patient.
Twice they wouldn't let me go on without paying a fine, which was haggled down to around 5 dollars each time, and twice they bought me lunch so I reckon the tactic 'broke even'.
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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traffic rules

Paul,

same old story, all over again. Just stick to the rules and the likely hood of having problems is minute. Nothing has changed. Home and abroad.
Very simple and for everyone easy to understand.

Cheers

Helgo
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Old 6 Mar 2011
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Ural Mountains

If you go through the Ural mountains on any of the highways, you will be stuck behind slow trucks most of the time. Overtaking lanes are few. There as many speed restrictions and there is no overtaking for the majority of the way between Ufa and Chelyabinsk. Its very easy to get frustrated and try and zip past some trucks in a no overtaking zone there.

Either set yourself to relax mode and take it particularly easy crossing the Urals, or try and choose some quiet backroads. ... or else have your wallet ready.

Its a common trip up point crossing Russia. But the speed restrictions and no overtaking zones are there because there are a lot of accidents there - precisely by drivers who zoom past trucks in no overtaking zones. In fact you will see them zooming at you from the opposite direction and pulling back into their lanes just before they hit you. And you will curse them for overtaking in no overtaking zones and their unsafe driving. When you see all of that, you understand why they have no overtaking there and you see why the police are all over that section of road trying to enforce it.
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