MOSCOW, August 14 (Itar-Tass) - Moscow’s authorities decided to give diplomats and employees of international organizations accredited to Russia’s Foreign Ministry the right to park their cars on paid parking area in downtown for free, the Izvestiya daily reported on Wednesday with reference to the press service of Moscow’s transport and road infrastructure development department.
The right to free parking will be given to all vehicles “owned by diplomatic missions, consular offices, including those headed by honorary consular representatives, international (interstate) organizations and their employees accredited to the Foreign Ministry,” the daily quoted the department’s head, Maxim Liksutov.
Izvestiya also quoted the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergei Markov, as saying that such privileges for foreign diplomats and representatives of non-governmental organizations were a compulsory measure in order to resolve a long-standing diplomatic conflict.
“Paid parking sites exist in Europe and the United States for a long time. In the past the Soviet Union and some foreign countries concluded a treaty, under which Soviet diplomats enjoyed some privileges, including the right to free parking,” he said. “Later the number of privileges reduced, but Russia had not recognized their cancellation, therefore for several decades there have been a conflict between Moscow and some other cities, including New York and Washington.”
“Our diplomats do not pay for parking, while the other side believes that Russia has already accumulated a debt totaling several dozens and, maybe, several hundreds of millions of dollars. Therefore, if Moscow introduces paid parking for foreign diplomats, this would automatically mean the recognition of this debt, which Russia did not recognize before,” Markov said.
The president of legal protection board for Russian motorists, Viktor Travin, described this decision as illegal and unfair. “Diplomats enjoy immunity even without this. If an embassy official violates traffic rules, receives a fine and doesn’t pay it, nothing will happen. As a rule, diplomats’ cars are driven by Russian and foreign drivers, who have no diplomatic status, that’s why it is unclear why they should enjoy parking privileges.”
“At first, it is necessary to make parking free for all categories of privileged citizens – war veterans, labor veterans, Chernobyl victims - and then to think about foreigners, who do not feel such a strong need for this,” Travin said.