Secret list – free pass through traffic

Traffic jams are as iconic to Moscow as Red Square and Lenin’s Mausoleum In Europe’s biggest city, rush hour is more like rush five or six hours.

Nearly one million cars hit the roads during peak times, creating a seemingly endless sea of bonnets, red lights and beeping horns.

Unless you’re on two wheels, sitting in traffic is a frustration Muscovites have come to accept, though not all of them have to.

Like lots of things in the Russian capital, power and contacts mean everything, and you don’t have to be driving a federal car to beat the queues. You just have to be on the “list”:

“Here are listed all the officials’ names and car details, from ministers to heads and deputies of the traffic police and their families,” the head of Independent Police trade union, Mikhail Pashkin, explained to RT.

“It was made to stop traffic police stopping their own bosses and relatives on the road,” he added.

Unlike the VIP blacked-out Mercedes with their blue sirens, which are allowed to get out of line, the cars on the list of untouchables’ are unrecognizable to the naked eye.

Traffic police instead have apparently had to memorize license plate numbers and car models. If they see them racing along the streets of Moscow they must turn a blind eye.

Despite their bosses telling them to do it, this is illegal and as Dmitry Leontiyev, a cars rights activist explained, also infuriating for fellow drivers:

“It’s unfair and I get angry, but unfortunately there’s no use fighting it. As soon as you ban one thing, people find another loophole to ignore the rules,” Dmitry explained.

“The main problem is that people start to think its okay to do whatever you please, as long as you are on the list, or you have a buddy in the traffic police, in government, in the Customs Service – whatever,” he said.

Moscow’s traffic police and the internal ministry have refused to comment to RT about the list, and what, if anything, is being done to change the situation.

So, for the time being, this is what most drivers will have to continue fighting everyday, since it seems to be a case of “if you’re not on the list, you’re not getting past.”