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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Set for City Center Drivers

The Moscow government is planning to impose a stiff annual fee for cars driven into the city center in a move to reduce traffic jams and improve air quality, an official said Thursday.

Marina Vasilyeva of the Moscow Traffic Police said Mayor Yury Luzhkov "will sign in the near future" a decree requiring motorists to buy annual passes from local traffic police to drive inside the Garden Ring.

Although she did not provide exact figures, Vasilyeva said the price of the pass will be "considerable." Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported that the fee will be 3 million to 4 million rubles (about $880 to $1180).

Konstantin Cherkassky, a spokesman for the mayor's office, said the general decision to impose the fee had already been taken, but added it will take some time to organize the move.

A special warning from the mayor's office will be issued before the fee is implemented, he added.

He denied media reports that the new regulations will take effect as of Jan. 1.

Vasilyeva said that despite measures taken by the government, the traffic situation in the center of the city remains "threatening."

"The number of cars inside the Garden Ring has doubled during this year," she said in a telephone interview.

"There is no place to build new roads in the center and existing roads cannot be broadened without a real threat of destroying the historical appearance of our city.

So the decision to cut the total number of cars was self-evident and may be the only possible solution," she said.

Last year, the city banned all trucks with a load capacity of more than 1.5 tons from driving in the city center and barred daytime deliveries of merchandise to all businesses located inside the Garden Ring.