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Vladimir Putin joins pajama workforce, decides to work from home

Vladimir Putin's motorcade can shut down Moscow's already jammed streets for hours, much to the chagrin of commuters. So he plans to do more work at the presidential residence.

By Correspondent / October 18, 2012

A traffic light displays the image of Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow February 2012. Mr. Putin said on Wednesday that he plans to drive into Moscow less and work from home more in an effort to help reduce the city's notoriously bad traffic.

Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

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Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally decided to do something to help relieve Moscow's paralytic, bumper-to-bumper, round-the-clock, city-wide traffic congestion: He's going to drive less and work from home more often.

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Correspondent

Fred Weir has been the Monitor's Moscow correspondent, covering Russia and the former Soviet Union, since 1998. 

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And that will, in fact, be a really big help, experts say.

"The president is minimizing his meetings in the Kremlin and is preferring to hold them in [his official residence] Novo Ogaryovo to avoid disturbing Muscovites," Mr. Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency Wednesday.

"There is no substantive difference. If the meeting does not require any kind of ceremony, it is held in the suburban residence. He really has cut the use of motorcades to the minimum in Moscow," he added.

Helicopter rides to work

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's press service simultaneously announced that he will use his own cars less and start taking a helicopter to his job, in the Russian White House in downtown Moscow.

Despite the millions of smoke-churning cars that clog Moscow's main roads, seemingly around the clock, the single biggest problem experts point to is the privilege accorded to the country's two top leaders and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch to have all traffic shut down between their home and workplace every single day.

"It will make a really huge difference if they cut down on their use of the roads," says Vyacheslav Lysakov, chairman of the Free Choice drivers' association, which has been fighting against official privileges on the roads since 2006.

"Every time one of our leaders goes somewhere, the police block traffic on three major roads for up to an hour and a half. It leaves an extremely negative impression on the public, and it's high time it was fixed," he adds.

In Putin's case, the entire 15-mile route between his sprawling countryside estate of Novo Ogaryovo – a huge parkland containing several palatial buildings on the banks of the Moscow River – and the Kremlin is completely shut down whenever the president goes to or from work. Once the roads have been closed and traffic sidelined under the watchful gaze of police, one or two decoy cars speed the full length of the route to check for problems, and only then does Putin's 12-car armored motorcade race through at speeds of up to 150 m.p.h..

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