09.12.2001 | O. Pokryshchuk, the Vinnitsa oblast

Roads as a source of products


The living standard of the village population does not differ much from that of a city dweller — the pay arrears reach 2 – 3 years for an agricultural worker and 1 year for a pensioner. It seems that the life is easier for rustics, since they live of the fat of the land and can sell their products. But in order to sell one must transport the product to a town market, and transportation is not simple or safe, as it could seem to an outsider. At the market salesmen and saleswomen will certainly be skinned by criminal racketeers, but it is a flea bite compared to the universal, omnipresent system of state racket on the roads. In fact, road policemen do not live on their salaries. They live on bribes extorted from motorists.

Here is one example. On 12 February a group of villagers from Yurkivka of Nemirovskiy district, Verbivka, Privilne and Bilky of Illinetskiy district started for cash to the town of Krivoy Rog. They transported themselves and their baggage by an autobus No. 65-21 XOI. The first leg of their root passed through the Kirovograd oblast, where the road police is provincial and not greedy. They inevitably stopped the bus near every road point, but took only up to Hr 10 at every stop. Then the bus came to road police post No. 12, near the gates across the railway. Here the extortioners were more civilized. They worked in a pair, a captain of road police and a sergeant. They did not present themselves, but they had badges: the captain carried No. 0075 and the sergeant was No. 0234. The captain’s number was almost the same as that of James Bond. Perhaps, he also have the right to kill.

Sergeant No. 0234 did not want cash, he preferred natural products: two sacks of potatoes and two boxes of apples. The price of the demand was about Hr 300. The bribe was not given, and the bus was forbidden to move. The sides started negotiations. Since all the needed papers were present and in order, the road police put out the argument that the bus was overloaded. The total load was counted, and it appeared to be 4.5 tonnes, while the bus was capable of carrying 8 tonnes.

Another road police car appeared. It did not try to interfere to a burning conflict with a lot of waving arms and using obscenities. Perhaps, the road police obeyed some principles of fair play.

Top chiefs of militia persuade citizens that they had started the reforms, reorganization, restructuring and reconstruction. Maybe, such positive changes concerning forms of some documents, or changing some portraits on the walls of the offices really occur. Yet, the number of road posts and the behavior of their inhabitants do not change. It is difficult to imagine a policeman of a civilized country, who stops a passing car waving a sausage ( a booty from a previous victim). In Ukraine this is normal. Some routes, for example Volyn – Kyiv – Kharkov, are abnormally expensive. Here a stop at every road police post costs Hr 10 – 25. Another notorious root is Ternopil – Vinnitsa – Kirovograd – Dnepropetrovsk – Donetsk. Road policeman are like drug barons in Columbia: rich, well-organized and dangerous.

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