Monday, 22 September 2008

Militsia

Friday night saw my first run in with the police or militsia as they are called here. Now they are literally everywhere in the metro, at monuments and in the streets. We had been warned on Monday by the British Embassy that they can be difficult and a bit cranky and will tell us off for random things that we would consider normal in the UK and demand a fine for whatever our misdameaner. We had been told of two approachs to take one pretend we speak no Russian at all even if we do- if they can not tell us that they want money from us then they will get annoyed and just walk off, the other is to argue in Russian and say that if they have a problem they should come with us to the Embassy and talk about it there.
While I was out with one of my Russian friends who lives here in Moscow we decided to see some of the more famous tourist sites, admittedly going site seeing at 11pm is a bit silly but there we go. All was fine even though there were militsia around until they saw that we were standing the wrong side of the safety barrier by the Monument of the Eternal Flame. We were literally marched from the site to a 'safer' distance where we were then questioned for 20 mins about who we were, why we were in Moscow, were we foriegn etc. I was pretty scared by this however Vladimir was more used to it and simply explained that I was English, he was Russian and that we were both poor students who had no money to pay for our fine for being the wrong side of the barrier and that we were unaware that we were desicrating public property. After what felt like forever we were allowed to go, most of the trouble was caused by the fact that my passport is still being registered and I only have a photocopy and a letter from Language Link explaining the situation- it is illegal here to be caught by the police not in possession of your real passport and in my case my visa, migration card and student card.
I get the feeling that this will not be my last run in with the militsia but as long as I don't end up in prison then all shall be fine. They were siimply described by the British Embassy as 'not pleasant.'

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