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MOSCOW, July 1 (Itar-Tass) —— A Russian presidential ordinance, which practically halves the number of vehicles with privileged flashers, enters into force on Sunday.
There are 569 vehicles on the list now, as compared with about 1,000 earlier.
There will be 67 vehicles with flashers in use by public officers plus 83 vehicles with flashes for governors, who will be able to drive these vehicles only within the limits of their constituents, the Kremlin said. All the rest will be used by law enforcers.
The Federal Security Service will have almost 200 cars with flashers, the Interior Ministry will have 100, the Courier Service will have 60, the Prosecutor General’s Office will have 30, and other law enforcement agencies will have less.
The Federation Council will have five cars with flashers, and the State Duma will have eight (it had twelve before). Lower house deputies called for stopping to use cars with flashers at all. Two State Duma Vice-Speakers from United Russia, United Russia General Council Secretary Sergei Neverov and his party deputy Sergei Zheleznyak, said they had stopped using flashers and called on colleagues to follow their example.
“Sergei Neverov and I made an intentional decision to stop using cars with flashers and informed the administration about our decision in early June. We call on deputies to follow our example,” Zheleznyak said. He said that the State Duma had only one person, Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, enjoying state protection. “I think he should be the only one using special means [the flasher],” he said.
The Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia also announced their plans to stop using cars with flashers.
“All right, let us leave the car with a flasher to Naryshkin only,” Liberal Democratic Vice-Speaker Igor Lebedev said.
A Just Russia was more careful. “We have two cars with flashers per faction,” A Just Russia faction head Sergei Mironov told Itar-Tass. “Neither I, nor [State Duma Vice-Speaker of A Just Russia] Nikolai Levichev will be using them. Yet we want to keep one car with a flasher for the faction. Just to prevent them falling into the hands of United Russia,” he said.
United Russia retorted the statement. “The Gudkov father and son kept the State Duma mandates just in case, but they continue to attend rallies and to demand the dismissal of the State Duma. The faction leader Sergei Mironov kept the car with a flasher just in case, but said they would not be using it. The thing is the party A Just Russia was formed just in case, and its members are accidental,” Neverov said.
Head of the Russian Communist Party Central Committee legal service, deputy Vadim Solovyov agreed that the car with flashers should be abandoned. He said though that the whole campaign was PR. “Whenever elections are held and tensions grow, they try to display their democratic attitude for distracting people from serious problems. Each time they start with cars with flashers,” he said. “I think the PR campaign will end in six months, and everything will return the way it was.”
There has been a reaction from the executive authorities, too. New Education Minister Dmitry Livanov posted on the Twitter in early June that he had asked for removing the flasher from his car. Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov made a similar decision earlier. The same statements have been made by a number of governors, including Nizhny Novgorod Governor Valery Shantsev and ex-Sverdlovsk Governor Alexander Misharin.
Installation of an illegal flasher will be punishable by a fine of 2,500 rubles for citizens, 20,000 rubles for officials supervising the use of vehicles, and 500,000 rubles for legal entities.
The driving of a vehicle with an illegal flasher will be punishable by the revocation of the driving license from 12 to 18 months. The illegal flashers will be confiscated.