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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Novel Monument Honors Novices on Russia's Roads

With trepidation they step on the gas pedal and roll out into the whirlwind of Moscow traffic for the first time. Russians call them chainiki -- literally, teapots, but it refers to absolute beginners -- and now they have their own monument.


One hundred years ago Wednesday, the Russian government passed its first decree setting out rules for the nation's roads and the "self-propelled carriages" that were appearing on them in increasing numbers.


To commemorate the anniversary, Danian, a dealership for the GAZ factory that produces the Volga car and Gazelle truck, commissioned artist Andrei Blagonadezhdin to create a sculpture that would capture the spirit of Russia's sometimes-crowded, sometimes-open, somewhat-regulated roads.


He decided to honor those who know the pain, passion and pratfalls of driving better than anyone: beginners.


"They suffer the first two years," Blagonadezhdin said. "We all go through this period."


The monument had its official gala opening Wednesday at 5 p.m., complete with GAI officers, city officials, beer, prizes, a lottery and the sculptor.


What the visitors saw was a metal monument humble in size but notable for its whimsical detail. A man with a head shaped like a teapot stands on top of a car, also shaped like a teapot. With a wrench in each hand, he waves his spring-shaped arms helplessly. Between his legs are a pair of very shiny bells. At the front of the car is a propeller-engine, presumably needing some work by the inexperienced hands of the kettle-headed hero of the piece.


"I wanted to create something kind, cheerful, with some kind of irony," Blagonadezhdin said. "In Moscow we have very few humorous things. Everything's very serious."


A GAI officer named Alexander took a more sober view."It's more tragic than funny," he said. "All my memories [of chainiki] are tragic."





A man named Volodya, who stood looking at the monument at 3rd Khoroshevsky Proezd, Dom 8, was in the midst of such a trying time.


"I myself just two months ago bought a car," he said. "There's so much movement out there on all sides. It makes my head spin."


Nearby stood a group of young girls who, when asked about the sculpture, broke into uncontrollable giggles. This was just what Blagonadezhdin had in mind.