Moscow declares war on street advertisements

The authorities are clamping down on advertising in Moscow streets, after 60 per cent of the ads turned out to be unauthorized.

Over 100,000 square meters of street advertisements have been taken down since early 2011. 40 trucks, also wearing various ads, have been removed from the capital’s roads.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin ordered the Duma to come up with a new law on street ads that would fine illegal installations. Now an illegal ad could cost its owner mere 5,000 rubles ($200).

The “ad offensive” dates back to the 1990s, when the USSR collapsed and millions of newborn businesses started expanding. As no one was able to grab the power straightaway and take the issue under control, various billboards, posters and other types of ads started mushrooming around the capital.

Now the officials are trying to bring the situation under control. In August 2011, over a third of the city’s street ads were removed from around the Garden, Boulevard and Third Rings. The vast majority of such billboards had been erected without permission.

Even an historic Mercedes sign was recently removed from “House on the Embankment” that had been wearing the mark for the last 10 years. While many thought the massive construction ruined the views of the nearby Christ the Savior Cathedral, for others it was the symbol of 1990s Russia.

In the most recent turn, Russia has adopted a law classifying spray-painted ads as an act of hooliganism. Graffiti ads first appeared in Moscow just over a year ago, particular around metro exits, and have since become a kind of phenomenon. The colorful signs promote anything from gigs and cafes to cheap registration for foreigners. Now anyone caught doing this can be fined.

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