Friday, 9 November 2007

"Glory to the employees of the security organs of the Russian Federation!"

Tomorrow, November 10th, is the annual Militia Day in Moscow. One year, I recall, this involved the partial closure of the Garden Ring for the 'Militia Marathon', where State TV broadcast how fighting-fit the Moscow Militia is. hmm...

Who knows what fun this year will bring?

Just remember, on this day of the year it is polite to smile and say 'thank you' and 'sir' if they try to extract any bribe from you for a perceived sleight. Tomorrow is their day, so be generous!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Help (or an AK47) is just a phone-call away

One of the 'perks' of my job - but one you sort of hope you will never have to use -is access to the CIS protection service from MIG Security service. The idea is that you have them on short-dial on your phone, your 'crash' code pre-programed.

I have only used them...ahem...once or twice in three years. And today was, amusingly, the first time in ages. From Office #1 in Paveletskaya to my home near Patriasrshy Prudy is usually about 30 minutes by car (but only 15 minutes in the opposite direction, which is odd). Today I was taking a taxi, which journey usually begins with the usual hand-wringing about the Moscow traffic (yawn!).

But 45 minutes later, as we approached the MKAD - hello? - visions of being whisked off and ransomed swam before my eyes....well I am severely sleep-deprived at the moment, having been pushing myself crazily and just returned from a whistle-stop trip to Astana.

So I dialled my crash code. It's an impressive in-your-own-language service and, as I prepared to hand the phone over to the driver - "you are to explain exactly where you are driving right now and why; and If they are not happy, they will track us down and get us" (I never how how they do this, but apparently the nearest Militia car can come to the rescue).

I then remembered a friend of mine who has used this service once 'in anger', so-to-speak. Even in jam-packed Moscow, they sent two bullet-proofed cars, with AK47-wielding guys, to effect 'fast extraction'. Apparently it is a great way to impress the ladies.

This trip didn't come to that. But I certainly felt reassured; not least when I saw the driver look at me wearily and with some more respect after the call. He didn't dare over-charge me!

Afterwards I bought a new mink hat, in quiet, small celebration...well, it is getting way cold here right now.