Activist Car Owners Mock New No-Tolerance Alcohol Law

Moscow car owners protest zero-tolerance alcohol policy. Source: KommersantA group of activist car owners took to the streets in Moscow on Saturday to protest a new zero-tolerance alcohol policy that they say prohibits drivers even from drinking kefir, Kommersant reports.

The amendment to Russia’s federal administrative codex came into effect on August 6, 2010, and abolished the previous minimally-allowed level of alcohol that automobile drivers could legally have in their blood. Now, drivers with any detectable amount of alcohol will be subject to prosecution.

Members of the Blue Bucket Society, which originated as a protest movement against members of the Russian elite who use blue car sirens to violate normal traffic laws, gathered at Moscow’s Vorobyovy Gory for what they called a “Memorial for Kefir.” Participants each drank several glasses of kefir and ryazhenka, popular fermented milk drinks that can theoretically raise one’s blood-alcohol level.

“You decided to mix ryazhenka with kefir – that’s like beer with vodka!” warned activist Aleksei Mayorov, holding a glass in his hand. “Look, after two glasses they can’t even stand on their own legs!” laughed other participants. The group then proceeded to adorn their cars with blue plastic buckets – symbolizing the offending blue sirens – and drove off.

While the police didn’t end up stopping the activists to check for drunkenness, they did block the kilometer-long motorcade from entering the center of the city. Undeterred, the motorcade turned onto the Garden Ring road and proceeded south. After just a couple of kilometers, however, inspectors began stopping each of the dozens of vehicles.

“The traffic cops behaved boorishly” – said motorcade co-organizer Pyotr Shkumatov – “swearing and threatening to take some people to the police station for organizing an unsanctioned rally.” In the end, nobody was detained, but Shkumatov said that he had never seen such aggression from the police at any of the Blue Bucket Society’s previous protests. “I think that previously the police took our protests for some sort of mischief, and didn’t take us seriously,” he said. “Now the authorities have begun to sense a threat.”

A statement from the Moscow City Police only noted that “there is no information regarding a motor rally on the Garden Ring.”