City Day Won't Be Holiday for Drivers

Each day brings us closer to Moscow's official Den Goroda, or City Day, which is planned for Sept. 6. On one hand, it's a good thing; the city government does a great deal of road repairs. On the other hand, preparations for the holiday can be a real pain for drivers.

According to unofficial information relayed by my friends in the GAI, the Moscow traffic police have received an order (also unofficial) to decrease the number of the cars on the streets of Moscow. For some motorists, this means that, starting next week, driving in the city could result in a serious headache.

For everyday drivers, this means that the traffic police will begin checking cars on the streets more carefully. And they will try to confiscate as many driving licenses and license plates as they can.

I suspect that special checkpoints will be set up along the Moscow Ring Road and people with Moscow region license plates will have some difficulty driving into the city.

To avoid trouble at police checkpoints you should check your car and its documents:

1. Be sure that you have a tekhosmotr, or inspection, certificate -- the small card which attests that your car is in good technical condition. This card will be the first thing the traffic police will check.

2. Be sure that your car's body doesn't have damage. If it does, you should have it repaired as soon as possible. If the damage is not serious, a little patch-up will be enough.

3. Check your license plates. If the paint is old and the plates look worn, it could be worth your while to have them repainted. This service is usually very cheap, and could save you a lot of time and trouble.

4. Check your lights and parking brakes. The GAI will pay special attention to them, and so should you.

5. Many foreigners in Moscow drive cars with Russian license plates using a doverennost, or special permit. In such cases, all documents should be in order.

6. If you have Moscow Region license plates and plan to travel in and out of the city on a regular basis, you should always have a document with you confirming that you are working or have business in the city.

Good luck!