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Erasing Russia's Potholes

This might just be a pothole.

This might just be a pothole.

The official Russian set of technical standards, GOST, has finally solved one of Russia's two biggest problems: bad roads.

In 2011, the Rosstandart national standardization body redefined the definition of a pothole as having a width of at least 1.5 meters and a depth of 7 centimeters.

At the time, Rosstandart defended its decision by saying Russian courts were swamped with lawsuits against road-maintenance agencies.

Repair services have had it easy ever since, but the new standards have taken a heavy toll on the already dilapidated road infrastructure in many Russian regions.

Russian state television Rossia (link to report and video) reports that "with the coming of spring, Chelyabinsk's roads have turned into a continuous obstacle course."

Meanwhile, the deputy governor of Novgorod Oblast, Arnold Shalmuyev, is now in detention on suspicion of running a scheme to siphon off money intended for road repairs.

No national standard has yet been established to measure the other biggest Russian problem, as per Nikolai Gogol's description: fools.

-- Pavel Butorin

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at