Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Now, telling people I got hit up by the cops for 300 rubles, the usual response of people I know around here (students and teachers both) is: "the next time it happens, call this number or show them this business card."

Now I've been here over six years, and heard this many time, and I'm not playing that shit for a number of reasons:

1) It's often bullshit -- people with no influence often try to portray themselves as people with influence to impress, in which case the cops won't give a damn, and may even get extra angry that you tried to pull rank on them.

2) Rich guys, politicians, mobsters and cops have a lot of downward mobility -- The is a very precarious balance in the relations of politicians, businessmen, gangsters, and the police, and this balance can change in a heartbeat. If you're trying to drop the name of a businessman or gangster or politician who has recently gone out of favour with the cops, for example, you're probably going to get doubly screwed.

Look at what happened to the richest guy in Russia, Mikhail Khodarkovsky; late 2004 would not have been the time to be flashing his business cards at the cops and expecting them to let you go. If that could happen to the richest guy in Russia, imagine how delicate the situation of some Armenian gangster owner of grilled chicken stands is going to be.

And lastly:

3) Getting favors means you have to give favors -- Obviously, these people have very little reason to offer you protection, and endanger their own relationship with the cops, and if you get in trouble, they'll be expecting favors in return -- most likely free English lessons, but who knows what else they might ask expect.

I think of the time I was going out with the teenage daughter of the local Captain of the Internal Affairs division -- he liked me and was always nice to me, but while I could have name dropped him to get out of trouble, you can imagine that he would have been expecting a ring on his little girls finger if I did it too often.

So me, I think that unless you want to make a lifestyle of it and get into all that Godfather bullshit, you're better off just paying the cops 300 rubles and shrugging it off.

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