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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has proposed to introduce differentiated penalties for drunk driving: for Moscow and St. Petersburg, they will be up to 500 thousand roubles and for other cities – 250 thousand roubles. This initiative has evoked criticism literally from all sides. Experts believe such dramatic increase in fines will result in corruption surge, and inequality between the regions in terms of punishment contradict the Russian Constitution.
In the view of the RF prime minister, the punishment for “drunk” road accidents with fatalities should be at least five years in prison and the maximum of 15 years, The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper stressed. It has turned out that Medvedev also has ideas concerning disqualification for driving actually for life and even confiscation of vehicles from those who do not value the lives of others. So, he has basically offered exclusively punitive measures, though said that the amount of compensation to the injured passengers will be increased up to 2 million roubles. Medvedev said that he instructed his government about a month ago to work out the corresponding bill, adding that some of the measures have already been prepared, and the law in general should be adopted at the end of this year.
In general, there is nothing strange in the fact that the expert community (including representatives of various movements of motorists) have criticised in harsh terms the prime minister’s proposals, according to the newspaper. It is far more surprising that the political heavy artillery represented by the People’s Front and the institute of Vladimir Putin’s authorised representatives also lashed out at him. Vyacheslav Lysakov represented the first, and writer Eduard Bagirov – the second. Lysakov spoke of the inadequacy of Medvedev’s initiatives and the situation on the roads, as well as the size of wages of most citizens.
Bagirov, using in the Twitter blog obscene words, albeit partially refined, for his part reproached the prime minister for the tinted glass of his expensive car windows, and also for his black leather jacket with a hint of brutality. And most importantly, he compared Medvedev with Putin who drives a Russian car and does not threat his fellow countrymen with punishment.
Leader of the Civic Platform Party Mikhail Prokhorov has also made statements criticising Medvedev. Prokhorov suggested Medvedev should pay 500 thousand roubles each time motorists are waiting in traffic jams when his motorcades are passing.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes that there is the impression that either somebody gave the prime minister bad advice, and so he had a bad PR exercise, or on the contrary, someone deliberately set Medvedev up, hoping for the negative reaction of many voters. The newspaper stresses that that motorists and their families make at least half of the country’s population.
“Medvedev’s speech is substandard work of the image makers,” political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko agrees in a commentary to the Vedomosti newspaper.
According to him, Medvedev no longer appeals to the liberal electorate and does not know with whom to orient himself: only traffic policemen could favour this measure, while it will cause bewilderment of other security forces and make motorists simply mad.
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s press secretary Natalia Timakova said that the number of fatalities on the roads caused by drunk driving is more important for the prime minister as a responsible politician, than loss of image due to unpopular measures.
The Kommersant daily reports that the traffic police inspectorate and the State Duma lower house of parliament learnt about this initiative from the media on Saturday morning, and many experts have put forward their own versions of what Dmitry Medvedev meant. The thing is that even the most serious violation from those named by the prime minister - crossing into the oncoming lane – is punished by a fine of 5,000 roubles. However, several hours later, the prime minister specified in his Facebook blog: “Please take note that the fines of 500 thousand roubles and 250 thousand roubles are proposed only for drunk driving.”
The Novye Izvestia daily asked experts for comment. Head of the group of lawyers of the Avtoadvokat legal firm Olga Ivitskaya is convinced that such sanctions will only lead to the extortion of larger bribe sums from drivers, and the difference in the size of fines in different regions of the country run counter to the RF Constitution, which proclaims the equality of rights and freedoms of man and citizen, regardless of his place of residence. “The payment of huge fines will not affect the well-being of the richest groups of society, but the majority of the population will not be able to find such sums of money,” Ivitskaya said. Coordinator of the Blue Buckets society Pyotr Shkumatov agrees with his colleague, saying that not the severity of punishment, but the unavoidability of punishment “better works” on Russian roads.