Moscow’s traffic inspectors are creatures of urban legend and the target of endless jokes in this exhaust-filled, car-clogged megalopolis. Burly men in baggy uniforms, they are lampooned for creating monstrous traffic jams and their readiness to take or solicit a bribe, and blamed for everything from bad roads to terrorist attacks. Such fear do they strike in drivers that a life-size mock-up of a traffic officer in a city south of Moscow was enough to cut violations significantly.
But despite their outsize reputation, said Officer Sergei Moskalyov, “You can’t make traffic inspectors out to be from another world.” Perched behind the wheel of his blue-and-white Lada, Moskalyov is king of the road. He is philosophical about the criticism he and his colleagues face. “Not everybody will love you,” he said.