Oh, please don't ticket me!

In the years since the fall of communist rule, many Russians are enjoying a vastly improved standard of living. OK, so their country isn't yet one you'd equate to - say - Germany as a place where people race along in their cars as though gasoline was free . Still, speeding apparently is enough of a problem that police have had to resort to trickery to try to control it. For example, from Belgorod, a region between Moscow and Ukraine, comes word that trooper Alexei Zakharov was the model for a life-size plastic mock-up of a traffic cop that stands next to a busy highway, radar gun in hand and a two-dimensional cruiser at its side. (It's not known whether the fake Zakharov wears reflective sunglasses.) This, despite the fact that temperatures so far this month have only twice climbed above the single digits Fahrenheit. The experiment is off to a promising start and probably will be expanded if the success continues. "Some drivers stop and come up to him to show their documents," Zakharov told state-owned TV. "Others sit and wait for [him] to approach them. They'll sit there for five minutes and then they drive away." Added a colleague, "[It] helps us in that we can't be two places at once."

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