St Petersburg

Cars and trucks are stuck in a traffic jam during a snowfall in Moscow on December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Traffic jam in Moscow on December 4 (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Russia has two main problems, according to an old 19th century joke: “dorogi i duraki”, or “roads and idiots”.

Over the weekend, many Russian motorists travelling between Moscow and St Petersburg were reminded of this saying, which even made a brief debut as a twitter meme “дураки + дороги” after the first snowfall of the year caused a 160km traffic jam on a highway between the two cities.

Finger-pointing in the wake of the snarl-up predictably pitted the “roads” versus the “idiots”, even as government emergency workers toiled frantically to clear new congestion on Tuesday following a fresh snowfall.

It was the drivers’ fault, claimed Andrei Kosinov, the head of the road service agency from the province of Tver, where the worst of the traffic jam occurred.

“This is mainly the result of uneducated drivers who are always hurrying somewhere, overtaking each other in the opposite lane, and so on… If there was a normal culture of driving, then these problems would not have occurred,” he said. Read more

A storm of protest has broken out in Russian political circles over, of all things, protesting. A new law sharply raising fines for unsanctioned political demonstrations, effectively criminalising them, was passed this week by both houses of parliament, and awaits signature by President Vladimir Putin. But is it fair? Read more