. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cabinet Decides to Give Drivers a Break

In about a year, the traffic police will lose one of their favorite ways of exhorting bribes from drivers -- issuing car roadworthiness certificates, or tekhosmotr, the Cabinet decided Thursday.

The decision was one of several reached at an administrative reform meeting aimed at revamping the country's bureaucracy by stripping ministries and other state agencies of some of their powers.

"Nowhere else in the world are the police in charge of car technical inspections," Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. "It's as odd as if we were to make the police in charge of the quality of the roads."

Alyoshin said the task of issuing roadworthiness documents would be moved into the private sector and participating companies would be licensed and controlled by the Transportation Ministry.

"The traffic police's task will only be to make sure that cars on the roads have certificates indicating that they are in proper condition," he said.

Currently, a vehicle is subject to technical inspections every two years if it is less than five years old and every year afterward. The procedure is notoriously corrupt, and many drivers pay bribes to avoid hassles.

Officially, the fee for an inspection is some 1,000 rubles ($33), but the average driver ends up paying about $100 to get the certificate in a timely manner.

It was unclear Thursday how much private companies might charge for the inspections.

Alyoshin noted that at the very least the switch would limit a source of corruption for traffic police.

The Cabinet also decided Thursday that the Labor Ministry and State Construction Committee will only be able to suspend the activities of companies through the court, that the Justice Ministry will no longer be able to limit the number of notaries working in a region and that various licensing powers will be taken away from the Transportation and the Industry, Science and Technology ministries.

Alyoshin said a special commission formed by the government last year to look for excessive and overlapping powers at state agencies has found 450, and 84 of them have been removed or are being removed.

Alyoshin cautioned that work would have to be intensified if the commission is to complete its task by a Feb. 24 deadline.

Only after this work is completed will administrative reform move to the next stage, he said. That stage may include the drastic restructuring of the government, including the number of ministries, he said.

Most of Thursday's decisions will only go into effect after the State Duma passes a raft of amendments to the law. The changes are expected to kick in Oct. 1, 2004.