VIP officials given green light to abuse flashing lights

A proposed ban on the controversial blue flashlights used by state officials has been omitted from the new laws on road safety.

Among the changes, city and municipal authorities can temporarily block traffic for road-safety reasons.

They will also take over some duties from the traffic police, including the maintenance of car parks and running road safety campaigns.

Initially, it was proposed to restrict the use of blue flashlights to the emergency services, the prime minister and the president, but the idea was rejected by two-thirds of deputies.

The new law enters into force in 10 days’ time.

A wide public campaign against blue flashing lights started last year, following a number of fatal accidents involving top officials and considering the ever-growing congestion on Moscow’s major traffic arteries.

The protests were ironically triggered by complaints by those abusing the privileges. For example, this past January a housewife called into a radio talk-show to complain about the behavior of drivers in Moscow. She said that when she borrows her husband’s car, people simply do not give way – even though the vehicle is fitted with blue flashing lights.

The host promptly pointed out that the woman was the one breaking the rules, as cars with blue lights are meant only for state officials or the emergency services.

In the most recent turn of events, activists in Moscow fighting for equal road rights, started protesting one person at a time by the famous Triumphal Arch on Kutuzovsky Prospect – one-person protests are perfectly legal in Moscow.

The organizers have promised to have someone standing by the arch every day during morning rush hour. They are calling for a ban on the use of the notorious blue flashing lights that give officials special road privileges.

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