Recently making headlines around the world is the Ryanair flight that was forced to land in Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko apparently ordered authorities to divert a Lithuania-bound airliner to his country’s capital, Minsk, in order to detain an activist opposed to his government. The international community is calling the incident a “state-sponsored hijack.”
Forcing a civilian aircraft to land for reasons like that is very much the stuff of movies. One can only imagine the thinking that went into such a scheme: from knowing the detainee’s whereabouts to getting a fighter jet to intercept the passenger plane and force it to go somewhere. But it’s not just opposition parties that Belarus is cracking down on. Just driving a dirty car in the country could get you cited.
Loosely translated, Section 10.3 of the republic’s traffic rules states that drivers are prohibited from:
…participating in road traffic on a vehicle covered with dirt (laminations), limiting the driver’s field of vision and also making indiscernible the information on the registration plate at a distance of 40m or less.
That means you could get a ticket if you drive a car that has soiled windows and grimy license plates. There is the obvious danger of motorists not being able to see clearly, and the hassle of traffic police or roadside cameras being unable to identify number plates. (Sound familiar, dear fellow Filipino drivers?)
Most car-rental firms in Belarus even tell customers that driving a dirty vehicle in the country is illegal, but fail to mention that the rule only pertains to the windows and the license plates. It’s quite difficult to keep a daily-driven car clean because of the nation’s harsh winters and regular thunderstorms.
Various sources say that the fine can cost up to $54 (P2,600) for such a violation. And because Belarus is a former Soviet socialist state, traffic citations are often open to interpretation by the authorities (not so different from the Philippines). So, if you ever find yourself driving in the country, just make sure that your ride’s windows and number plates are clean.
NOTE: We did not include the link to Belarus’s government site that states the above-mentioned motoring rule. The web page takes too long to load.