January 01, 2011

Ivan v. Migalka

In late november, a cold snap hit Moscow like an ice block to the jaw. Traffic fell into a state of frigid deadlock and average Ivans clashed in outrageous fashion with the dreaded migalka

The migalka – that flashing blue light atop government cars that allows their drivers to blithely ignore the traffic laws which apply to mortals – have become a symbol of much that is wrong with Russia and its roads, and has birthed grassroots efforts to battle the “unfair, feudal practice.” But so far it is sound and fury with little significance: the privilege is as yet undiminished. In fact, it seems like every week there are new, jaw-dropping migalka incidents.

A migalka-outfitted car belonging to the speaker of the Ingushetian parliament rammed a car that refused to switch lanes, so as to let it pass. Goons exited the speaker’s car, threatened the other driver with a gun, and offered him 5,000 rubles ($150) as compensation for the dent they caused.

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