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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another Russian Adventure

We have owned a car in Russia for 6 months. In that time we have been stopped by the police more times than my entire life in America! The police in Russia regularly pull people over at random to check documents and check for drivers who have been drinking.

Today it was my fault. I was pulled over at a speed trap on a side street in the center of Nizhny Novgorod. I was doing 46 KPH (26MPH) in a 30KPH (19MPH) zone. The police clock your speed and wave you over. They show you how fast you were going and then you are told to go see the other officer who is sitting in the car.

I waited in line as they were pulling over a lot of cars. When my turn came I sat down in the car, gave the guy my passport and license (everyone in Russia carries a passport), and then told him, "I am a foreigner, I don't speak much Russian". He rolled his eyes and looked at my license and passport. He then asked if I had my car documents. These are basically the registration and proof of insurance. I had mine so he looked through them, not saying anything.

I have found that it usually pays to be an American in these situations. The police are usually surprised to see Americans. They are also surprised when an American is driving a Russian car. We were joined by a second officer and the first one said to the other one, "He is an American".

"An American!", the other guy replied. The second officer then said in English what were probably the only English words he knew, "Thank you very much". I looked at them both, they waved me out of the car and as I stepped out I replied in English, "Thank you very much". They both smiled for the first time and off Karen and I went on our way home.

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