No Left Turns

Alan Broach Issue: Section:

I was driving in downtown Moscow recently when I noticed something even more unusual than the unusual things you usually see. There were no “left turn” signs anywhere. If you have driven in Moscow you will know that turning left is rarely feasible, maybe once every 16 kilometers or so, but no signs at all! I was discombobulated and decided to research. Buried in a 2 week old copy of Kommersant I found an article which, liberally translated, runs as follows “Mayor Luzhkov bans left turns! ”. Fascinated, I read on “Mayor Yury “Lord of the Ring Roads” Luzhkov today signed an Executive Order banning left turns on all roads within the City limits”. The Mayor was quoted as saying “with the ring roads what I have built and the others what I’m gonna build we don’t need no left turns no more. I’m gonna build three more ring roads, an outer one, an inner one and one in between the inner and the outer but I don’t know what to call that one.”

I met with Oleg Filippov, head of the Moscow Traffic Police and asked him if this could be true. Yes replied Officer Filippov, ‘turning left just causes problems, accidents, deaths and paperwork so we don’t like left turns. If you consider the matter in its geo-political context and factor in the environmental socio-economic soft power nuances you can see what a mess this country gets into when it turns left. That will be 500 rubles or a nice bottle of cognac, you chose. Oh $200? yes that’s fine, no put it down there where no one can see, don’t wave it about, the road’s closed cos the Prime Minister is coming and……. .”

Speaking of the Prime Minister there was a quote from him in the Kommersant article. It read “President VV Putin (he tends to forget) told Kommersant that he agreed with the change in law pointing out that “The President is not for turning”. Strangely familiar ?

So the morale of the story is that if you want to turn left in Russia you have to go round in circles to do it.

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