Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut motorcades

  • 18 October 2012
  • From the section Europe
Dmitry Medvedev's motorcade heads for his inauguration in Moscow's Kremlin on 7 May 2008
Moscow motorists are sometimes kept waiting for up to an hour as Russia's political leaders head to work in the morning

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have said they will work from home more to cut the disruption caused by their motorcades in Moscow.

Every time top officials travel across town police close the roads, forcing drivers to wait in long traffic jams.

Recently, motorists in the capital have begun to show their displeasure by honking their horns.

The president and PM will now try to work at home or travel by helicopter.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Mr Putin, told the Interfax new service: "The president is minimising his meetings in the Kremlin and is preferring to hold them in [his residence in] Ogaryovo to avoid disturbing Muscovites.

"There is no substantive difference - if the meeting does not require any kind of ceremony, it is held in the suburban residence."

Blue buckets brigade

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is said to be planning on using his helicopter more often to free up the roads.

His decision may have been sparked by a visit to St Petersburg over the weekend, where angry motorists directed a barrage of car horns at his motorcade and made what were reported to be rude gestures.

It is not only Russia's two top politicians who have road privileges, but a host of other senior figures as well.

Some business leaders, state officials and MPs are allowed to drive with a blue light on the roof, giving them the right to cut through traffic.

The practice spawned a protest movement known as the "blue buckets", where people stuck buckets to the roof of their cars to imitate the lights.

Earlier this month Mr Putin vowed to cut the number of people afforded the privilege, said to number about 900.

In an interview with Russia's NTV television network, he said he had heard motorists honking their horns as his motorcade went past.

"I regret and extend my apologies for the inconvenience, I truly feel bad about it," he said.

BBC Russian correspondent Oleg Boldyrev says this is a long-running problem that will not be easily solved by the president and prime minister avoiding going to the office as there are hundreds - if not thousands - of officials across Russia who enjoy their road privileges and may not be willing to follow the Kremlin's example.

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