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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Feared GAI Celebrates 60 Years on the Road

It wasn't Christmas, but it could have been. The glittering collection of crystal vases, oil paintings and Japanese boom boxes piled up before a row of grinning government officials was meant for a national occasion of great emotional outpouring: The 60th anniversary of the GAI, or State Automobile Inspectorate.

"All Moscow, all Russia is observing the 60th anniversary of the GAI," proclaimed Pavel Zlatkin, general director of GlavMosAvtoTransport, the municipal ground public transportation service, in a celebratory speech Friday.

"We love you, we know you, we love you!" Zlatkin continued, waving at rows of retired and current State Automobile Inspectorate officers snoozing or leafing through anniversary copies of the official GAI history at the headquarters on Sadovo-Samotechnaya Ulitsa.

And for any Moscow driver who might have their doubts about gaichik virtues, be forewarned that the GAI are now prepared to defend their honor.

"Let it be a sign to anyone who doesn't deal correctly with the GAI that we have this defense," shouted General Major Anatoly Guryev, director of the air force's auto brigade, brandishing a meter-long saber inscribed "with warm respect and best wishes" to the nation's traffic police.

A nervously giggling General Alexander Yuryev, head of the Moscow division of the GAI, assured the audience that the sword "would never cause any harm" to a Moscow driver.

But as the gifts of booze, crystal vases and long-stemmed roses piled up from transportation workers and non-governmental traffic safety organizations alike, Moscow's private drivers were noticeable by their absence.

Known for their lightning speed in levying fines, the blue-uniformed GAI cops, responsible for everything from directing traffic to granting driver's licenses, do not rate among Muscovites' favorite topics of discussion.

Not only did Moscow drivers interviewed Friday know nothing about the GAI's big day; for many, the less said in public about the traffic police, the better.

"That's a very, very, very, very complicated question," said one man hurrying off when asked for his views on the GAI.

Others were more daring. "The gaichik scares everybody," said Kirill Pavlov, a lawyer sitting behind the wheel of a parked Lada on Sadovaya-Karetnaya. "No one knows their rights because in this country we're not defended by the law. So whatever [the GAI] ask for as a fine, we just give them."