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Unpopular migalki backed - by migalki-using law-makers

Duma Going Into AdjournmentThe motorist's biggest nightmare ­ a car with migalka ­ is not about to leave the streets.

Russia's state Duma has decided not to limit the use of the annoying blue lights on black cars on Russian roads.

The Russian parliament dismissed the bill introduced in April, 2010 by United Russia member Anatoly Ivanov in the first reading.
[image adapted from version at RFE/RL bearing attribution to RIA Novosti]

MPs do not want to limit migalki

The MPs did not like amendments to administrative violations codex that would only allow the use of migalki for urgent life and death matters.

The bill proposed depriving offending drivers of their licences for between 1.5 ­ 2 years. If the order to use a migalka came from an official, then they would have to pay a 20,000 roubles fine.

But MPs, most of whom use migalki themselves, agreed with the Duma's constitutional committee, which said that the bill was self-defeating.

The committee argued that cars with migalki would be stopped by police all the time, delaying rather than speeding up official journeys and wasting officers' time.

It was also said that drivers would have difficulty proving whether their trip was urgent enough to justify putting on the lights.

MPs afraid other drivers would lose respect

The State Duma also argued that "any doubts in the legality of the duty will provoke the drivers to break the Highway Code," by not letting migalka cars pass.

At present the code allows a car under migalki to avoid most road rules if it is on "urgent duty". However, the law is unclear about what is urgent, who defines it and how it can be proved in court.

Moreover, there is no explicit punishment for using migalki on personal journeys.

Almost a thousand blue lights

Last week it became known that the number of officials allowed a migalka was cut by 67 people ­ to 900.

The lights will disappear from cars of heads of state corporations, except Rosatom's Sergei Kiriyenko and Rostekhnologii's Sergei Chemezov, Itar-Tass reported.

At the moment head of Rosnano Anatoly Chubais, RZD president Vladimir Yakunin, head of Sberbank German Gref, Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller, head of VTB Anrei Kostin and others use migalki.

Heads of three major TV channels also have one each, and so does Russia's chief exorcist Nikita Mikhalkov.

The latter owns a migalka as he holds a position of public council chairman in defence ministry.

It is unclear what will happen to TV channels and Mikhalkov's migalki.

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