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Dealing with Russian (and other) Police and other hints

7 posts in this topic

This has been covered piecemeal over various blogs and forums. I thought I would condense it down to one place for reference. This is from our personal experience and from this and the MR forums and blogs.

All of our police incidents were in Russia near Stavropol. Once you are stopped they get on their cell phones and let their buddies know you are comming.

We later found out when the cops say Banque! Banque! they mean you are to take the slip of paper to a certain bank and pay the fine there. That is only good if the fine is real, which only happened once.

They will also point at the book of traffic infractions and shout Protocol! Protocol! Anything you do will be a "serious" violation.

Hints for not being stopped:

Go the speed limits, even if 25 KM/HR is slower than molasses.

Have your headlights on when you drive.

Don't change lanes near a cop. The non-solid lines where you can change lanes are almost impossible to see and are only 2 feet longer than your car.

Smile and wave, it always surprises them.

Watch out for blue signs that say ANC. That means cops ahead.

General hints:

Make a color copy of the title or the V5 form for the car for every country you pass through. They come in handy. Some rallyers I know had to backtrack 50 miles to find a copy machine.

Don't speed in Kazakhstan unless you take a radar detector. The policecars have a photo-radar unit mounted on them that shows your license plate and speed. We got stopped for 75 in a 65 zone, but he didn't speak English and we didn't speak Russian or Kazakh so he just let us go.

Get several International Drivers Licenses and give one of them to the cop if stopped. Hide your real drivers licence. One cop tried the "confiscate your license for 3 months unless we paid him $1,000" scam with us.

Take both Euros and dollars. They will claim the fee is one amount in one currency, and if you don't have it they will ask for a lot more in the other currency.

Decide in advance your strategy for dealing with police. You can pay what they ask, argue them down, or wait. A MR team last year was stopped over 21 times in the Ukraine and Russia and never paid a dime. Their longest wait until the cops got tired of wasting their time and let them go was 5 hours. Time vs money.

Don't carry more than around $50-$75 on you. If you absolutely need more go back to the car and get more from your partners.

Pretend you don't understand what the word dollar means.

Don't fill in the part of the Russian/Kazakhstan entry form that asks how much money you are taking into the country. It is intended for amounts over $3,500. Cops will look at that and see how much money you are carrying.

Copy your proof of insurance form onto green paper. Not legally necessary, but will make it easier at smaller border entrys.

No problem with GPS at the Russian borders or while driving.

The Garmin World Map was good to have everywhere.

If going through the 'stans, the best map available is

Gizi Kazakhstan map, ISBN 9789630083157

It is worth its' weight in platinum and covers all of the 'stans and part of Iran in great detail, with mileage (in KM).

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Thanks a lot for the info! Planning to hopefully avoid situations as much as possible... but already aiming for the "middle" strategy when it happens... Unfortunately I brick myself when stopped by the cops in this country, so hoping I'll man up before hitting Russia!

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From our experiences over two ,attitude has a lot to do the outcome of the inevitable police stops. 1st year out of 13 stops we paid a 100 rouble speeding fine, but got the cops to give us a bump stop afterwards, and the second year with innumerable stops we paid no fines.

So our approach was when stopped, get out of the car smiling brightly ( even if it is the 4th stop in under two hours) stick your hand out and say " sDras-voi-teeyah" which is the formal greeting... I suppose like How do you do. They without fail shook our hand and started talking in Russian ( or Kazakh, Uzbeck... same word and approach works!) To this reply "pa ruski" ( no russian) and pointing to your self say "Anglia" (England) Then just act dumb, smile and shrug. Keep your copies of V5, MOT, insurance, international driving licence and documents aquired at the border, 100yds swimming certificate etc etc in a file you can just grab and and present with a flourish to the policeman. And when they finally let you go shake their hand again saying "spaseeba" ( thank you). Using this approach we got away with turning the wrong way across a dual carriage way near the Kremlin, aviating our 2CV over a ralway line right infront of a police car and many other infractions!

Oh and one final bit of information we aquired from somone who did it previous to us. If the police are shaking you down for a bribe, make a big show of making a note of the policmans number.... got us off a $200 fine in Kazakhstan after driving across the middle of a roundabout!.

Having read this back we sound like awful drivers... we weren't... honest! Wish we were there doing it again this year so good luck to you all and send our love to Mongolia

Neil and Jan

Mongol Rally 2005 and 2006

K.I.S.S. ;)

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excellent posts

we got stopped 18 times, 1 was for speeding, so got a fine, we had a wallet with some small dominations, the cop helped himself to a couple of notes which came down from £75 to £4

But all the other times was simply because the cops were interested in us, we smiled loads, Dan even offered the cops some watermelon once while there was a 6 inch blade sticking out of the water melon, you would have been on the deck in this country if they saw the knife!

Also football is big to the cops... mention beckham or manchester united and smile when syaying those words, they will be shaking your hand in no time, never ceased to fail.

The cops look so hard faced, and you'll think your in deep poop, but once they hear the accent they soon cheer up.

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Agree about the football smalltalk.

A peeler in Sarajevo tried a 700 euro fine for failing to indicate. Took our documents (passports) at the start before saying a word obviously thinking we'd panic. A drawn out argument later topped with a pretend call to the embassy quoting his police number and we got our passports back without a penny being dropped.

Also found a team in Turkmenistan had given over hundreds of pounds 'worth' of travellers cheques as a bribe to police seeking some kind of customs tax at the border on exit. That was funny, even more so when they asked us how they could cash it.

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We tried a bunch of different approaches, and of all of the advice about cops, this was the best. Figure out the local greeting ("Salaam" and a handshake works wonders in Uzbekistan), smile, and don't admit that you understand any Russian.

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