Russian glitch voids 5m traffic tickets

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image source, Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
image captionA quarter to a third of all Russia's logged traffic offences happen in Moscow

Moscow police are at a loss about what to do with over 5 million unpaid traffic tickets, after a tech glitch fumbled the names and addresses of the drivers.

The pile-up of fines seems to be the unintended consequence of Russia's recent move to bring traffic policing across all its regions under a single new federal system.

It was meant to make it easier to log violations and let officers post the ticket to the offender, but the new set-up has hit a snag.

"The system is working more or less correctly but there are transition period issues," Mikhail Chernikov, the head of Russia's General Administration for Traffic Safety, told the Kommersant daily.

"Either the house or flat is not listed, or the surname is incomplete," Chernikov explained. He did not give a specific figure for the number of people whose records were wrong.

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The stack of pending fines lost in the cracks amounts to roughly 15% of traffic violations in the capital in 2016 and 2017, according to the newspaper's estimate.

The problem is not confined to Moscow, but that is where a high percentage - between a quarter and a third - of all logged traffic offences in the country happened. This is partly due to a higher concentration of CCTV cameras.

'Upside to Russia's mess'

Muscovites are in no hurry to complain, especially after several local news outlets suggested that the fines have now been "forgiven".

One Twitter user commented: "Sometimes there's good news, too". Another tweeted: "There is an upside to Russia's mess".

But the system could soon reveal another weakness, according to Mr Chernikov. If local authorities introduce limits on car emissions, as is being discussed, drivers of highly polluting cars will be fined for entering protected zones.

The trouble is that the incomplete database also lacks information about exhaust emissions specs for 60% of cars.

"How all of this will go is unclear," Mr Chernikov said. "We will need to systematise everything."

image source, Rossiya-1 TV
image captionTraffic police must also deal with the law of unintended consequences

Reporting by Damien Sharkov

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