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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parking Pointers

MTThe third Volkonsky has a deli and bakery store, but is primarily a cafe.
Parking in Moscow is either a nightmare or a joy, depending on your personal relationship with the criminal code. If you blithely ignore signs and traffic regulations -- and have no compunction about driving on sidewalks, grass or walkways -- it's a joy. If you actually try to park legally, it's a nightmare.

Where You Can Park

You can park in any place where there is a parking sign (P); park parallel to the curb or in accordance with the pictogram on the sign. Note that some stores and restaurants in Moscow rent the sidewalk or public space in front of their establishments for client parking, but no one in Moscow owns or rents the street. So if you see a vast expanse of parking space on the road in front of a fancy restaurant or boutique, feel free to get out of your car, move the illegally placed plastic cones and barriers, ignore the screaming security guards, park your car and stroll past the security guard's establishment. If the guard gets nasty, offer to call 02 so that police officers can come and explain the concept of municipal thoroughfares to him.

Sergei Karpukhin / AP
Ten Years Ago: The Hale-Bopp comet blasting through space, outshining the red star adorning the top of the Kremlin's Spassky Gate. Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets to grace the earth's skies in the 20th century.
You are also allowed to park on the roadway where it is not expressly forbidden. That means no parking on or near tram tracks; on railroad crossings, bridges, or in tunnels; on or within 5 meters of pedestrian crossings; within 5 meters of an intersection; within 15 meters of public transportation stops; and any place where your vehicle blocks traffic lights or road signs. You can stop laughing now; despite evidence to the contrary, these are the rules. And the city is now starting to enforce them the painful way: by towing illegally parked cars.What to Do if Blocked

If another parked car is blocking your car, note its model and license number. Go in cafes, barber shops, food shops, and other establishments nearby and shout out the description of the car that is blocking you. If that fails to flush out the driver, push the car up and down to activate the alarm system. If the car blocking you is violating the law (for example, double parked or in violation of any of the rules above), call 02 and ask the traffic police to come to the scene. But here's the really bad news: If the car blocking you is not violating any regulations, the fact that it's blocking you is not technically against the law.

Taking Revenge if Blocked

One sympathetic traffic cop gave some excellent unofficial advice, although this advice is only for drivers who wear make-up. "Do you have any lipstick? Really dark red lipstick? Write something on the windshield in dark red lipstick. It doesn't harm the car, but is the devil to clean off."

Of course, this advice can only be used if you've managed to wiggle your car out and drive away. What exactly you write on the windshield is up to you and your conscience.

A.V. Schusev State Museum of Architecture
A traffic jam on narrow Khrustalny Pereulok in central Moscow -- total gridlock, with no escape to the left or the right.
What to Do if Towed

If you park illegally and come back to find an empty space, call 504-1724, the round-the-clock hotline of the Municipal Vehicle Towing Service. Within about 20 minutes they'll have your car registered in their system, tell you the address of the nearest traffic police station, as well as the address of the lot holding your car (it's likely to be at Volgogradsky Prospekt, vl. 2). You march over to the police station, get a stub to pay the fine (100 to 300 rubles to be paid at Sberbank within a month) and a form that allows you to pick up your car. Clutching all that, you flag down a taxi and go to the lot, where you will be escorted to find your car, certify that there was no damage done during towing, and drive away. (If you think there was damage, they'll call their insurance agent.) The first 24 hours in the lot are free; the second and third days are charged at 40 rubles an hour; the fourth and subsequent days -- at 80 rubles an hour. If you are lucky, this will take about three hours, but if there are lines -- much longer. Weeping and cursing will not speed the process along; it's your own darn fault.