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Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Horror of "Life" in Putin's Russia

Blogger Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert details the horrors of ordinary, day-to-day life in neo-Soviet Russia. There is no doubt that what Tim describes is flatly illegal under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement and the right to live anywhere. But the propiska system continues despite the Constitution -- yet the Kremlin does not hesitate to invoke claimed provisions of the Constitution on extradition in regard to Andrei Lugovoi. In other words, the Constitution exists when the Kremlin says it does.

One of my employees is a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man in his 20s, who works for us as a minibus driver. Finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober young man to work as a driver in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is akin to finding a pleasant, reliable, and sober builder in West Wales.

Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re going to have to get rid of him. His driving license expires next month, and in order to renew it he needs a permanent local address, where he is registered with the Russian authorities. In any normal country, a permanent address means anywhere which you are living, including a place you are legitimately renting. But in Russia, you can only get registration at an address if you own the property, or you were born into that address, i.e. your parents owned it. Our driver is from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and was registered at his parents’ apartment for most of his life, but they sold the place and moved away, leaving him renting a place here. When they sold the place, they lost their registration at that address, and the new owners were entitled to register themselves there instead. My driver then found himself without a registered address in his home town, or indeed anywhere else.

In Russia, those who do not have a registered address are classed as homeless, or bums. In short, a tramp. That this chap has a job, a place to eat, and a bed to sleep in matters not to the Russian authorities: if he is not regsitered somewhere, he is homeless.

And if you are homeless, you cannot renew your driving license. And if he doesn’t have a driving license, he cannot work for me as a driver, and he loses his job. Insanity.

A commenter offers a solution: "Well, as for your fellow money will be the best solution for him - just to find the right person to give to…:)"

Truly, Russia is a barbaric nation.


Russian Commie said...

"Propiska system" functions only in Moscow as a attempt to stop the inflow of illegal immigrants.

As for homeless people who have no right and cannot do anything (driver license, work, etc) - maybe you will tell us, dear Russophobe, how it works in the civilized USA? I know there is plenty of homeless guys in big cities there.

Anonymous said...

Russian commie, Perhaps you did not read what was posted. The guy has a place to live and a job, in the USA that is not considered homeless-only in Russia can something so stupid happen.

David Essel said...

Even silly commies like the one above can sometimes be (partly) right...

I too have heard that the "propiska" system remains in force officially only in Moscow and Leningrad (I'll call it StP when Russia is a free country).

This driver's case therefore is a vivid example of how knowledge of the law is not something of any great import to law enforcement officers. And indeed, why should they need to know the law - the country is basically lawless and this case is simply another illustration of the fact.

However, I would also say this driver is a little bit of a wimp. Weird as this may sound to people who have the luck to live in a law-governed land, the proper thing for this driver to do is to go to his employer and, мол, explain the false claim about propiska and how much the bribe is to 'solve' the problem. I doubt that it will cost too much out in that neck of the woods. (In fact, a go-getter driver would sort things out about the bribe first (assuming it's within his means, which bribes generally are - otherwise the system breaks down) and maybe later see if his employer fancies helping out.

The foreign employer should view this as a small out-of-pocket expense.

Perhaps this driver (who to tell the truth sounds a bit wimpy to me) was silly enough to let the officials know that he works for a foreign company, thus driving up the price of the bribe.

And that's the trouble with corruption. At the macro level, it's reprehensible, one of the causes and symptoms of Russia's (I hope) terminal sickness. But at the micro - human - level, it's something you engage in to keep a nice man in a job.

Ain't that the way? Corruption corrupts...

Anonymous said...

there ARE lots of homeless guys in the states, but many are alcoholic and lets face it, america produces more jobs than workers so anyone who wants a job can find it very easily.
in russia, however, i note that most of the beggars in the streets are old women. old women in the perekhodi, on the metro, on new arbat, old arbat, etc, etc, etc.
it's a fine government that wastes money on russia today's lies and propoganda and scrimps on pensions so old ladies are forced to beg. nice.