January 1, 2004 Russians have eight new reason to stop celebrating holidays and start saving money as soon as possible...
After January 1 the road police is authorized to fine the drivers who have no certificates of their vehicle insurance. Luckily, the most dreary prognoses were not realized. According to my personal observations, road police officers are not in a rush to stop all vehicles for checking insurance certificates. Probably, they gave themselves a rest during holidays, but in any case the drivers should make sure they have vehicle insurance certificates, as soon as possible.
New Traffic Rules. One more piece of new for drivers. The amendments to Traffic Rules came into force. First, drivers will have to be more careful about parking. New rules forbid to park vehicles on the pavement if there are no special signs or road marking allowing this. Earlier law forbade parking on the pavement only if this disturbs pedestrians walking. This criteria could hardly be objective. One more novelty relates to vehicle having permitted maximum weight more than 2.5 tons. From now on, they are banned from using the edge left line on the roads with two or more lines for traffic. This relates not only to trucks, but also to taxi vans who often block the way of special vehicles using the left edge line. In addition, the amendments to the Traffic Rules oblige drivers to pass curbstones, pedestrian safety spots and other road equipment from the right, if there are no signs or road marking obliging different way of passing
Public transport. Those using Moscow public transport will have to pay fare which became one rouble more expensive for a trip and started costing 8 roubles (25 cents). Meanwhile, Moscow government officials warn that increasing fare will be continued this year, and in July the fare will be 10 roubles
Utilities bills increase. On average, Muscovites will have to pay 13 percent more for electricity, cost of central heating, using running water, sewerage and disposal systems will be raised as well.
Sales tax. After January 1, 5 per cent sales tax has been cancelled. However, it did not result in lowering prices. Last year federal legislature deputies, senators and regional authorities conducted heated disputes about this tax. Biggest Moscow retail networks lobbied canceling this law. They even promised to make 5 percent decrease in their prices. Unfortunately, they quickly forgot about their promises: nobody is ready to refuse from extra profit.
Value Added Tax. This year value added tax is lowered from 20 percent to 18 percent. The above mentioned retail networks promised that this will result in lowering their prices, but…
Quota for goods brought into the country. After January 1, Russians are allowed to bring goods having cost of 65 thousand roubles (2.2 thousand dollars). The government increased the sum of goods allowed to be brought into the country by individuals without paying Custom duties. Earlier this sum was only $1 000.
Law “On Communication” came into force on January 1 as well. Adopting this law terminated the efforts of the authorities in some regions to initiate paying phone bills according to the time of using the phone. From now on, a phone owner has the right to choose what kind of payment is more convenient for him/her: time system or a fixed monthly rate. The new law also allows Moscow residents to have the same phone number after moving in a different apartment or house.
The United States announced its intention to send Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers to Ukraine. Formally, everything is presented as if it is necessary to protect the embassy. However, the reality is different. This opinion was expressed by a military observer, reserve colonel Mikhail Khodarenok.