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'Sick' in style: Meet the new Russian ambulance luxury taxi

Wealthy Muscovites cut through traffic in style as police scramble to halt the new service.

By James_Tate Mar 25, 2013 11:25AM

If you find yourself riveted to dash-cam footage from Russian drivers -- and at this point, who among us isn’t? -- you already know that negotiating Moscow traffic can be an adventure.

Between the randomly parked cars, street racers, insurance fraudsters, extremely low military aircraft flyovers, random tank crossings and meteors, there is seemingly no end to the causes of Russian traffic woes. According to a report in Canada’s National Post, police in Moscow are now attempting to crack down on a highly illegal solution being offered by some companies: ambulances whose interiors have been stripped out and remade as luxury taxis for the city’s rich.

For a going rate of 6,000 rubles per hour (about $200), wealthy Muscovites can hire a taxi that, from the outside, looks like a standard ambulance — because it once was. Where gurneys and medical equipment once resided, however, now sit the swank leather couches and flat-screen TVs you’d expect to see in a limousine.

There’s even champagne and caviar, though with the sirens blaring and the inevitable weaving the ambulance-taxi would have to do through insane Moscow traffic, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking an actual sip. The pricey booze and fish eggs are there because hey – if you’re going to exploit people’s regard for emergency response vehicles for the sake of shortening your commute, you may as well do it in style.

If nothing else, one has to admire the ingenuity of the idea and the unrestrained nature of its execution. The interior of one of these faux ambulances could be the back of any service car geared toward the VIP set. Russian officials, unsurprisingly, have failed to find this funny. Moscow police were tipped to their existence by reports of companies advertising online, and have already begun making stops of suspicious ambulances in an effort to get them off the roads. For years, other Russian drivers have made a habit of installing flashing blue lights on their luxury cars to make them appear like state officials.

For now, if you’re in Moscow over the next few months, keep an eye out: That ambulance screaming by might not be an ambulance at all.

[Sources: National Post; photo via MSN Now]

Mar 26, 2013 10:34AM
In Russia, if you are a wealthy, well-connected oligarch, you can kill someone in broad daylight and get off with a slap on the wrist. The eldest son of Sergei Ivanov, the current Russian minister of defense, was driving drunk (with one of those flashing blue lights on his vehicle) when he killed a woman back in 2006. No charges were ever filed, and his father was simply fined $5,000. The victim's family got absolutely nothing. When the central government is so hopelessly corrupt, is it any wonder that this kind of shenanigans could happen?
Mar 26, 2013 7:37AM
Russia needs people like Putin to even try to keep this stuff under control. these people are out of their minds, no regard for anything
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