Monday, June 7, 2021

Electric Scooters Test of Russian Society and Russian State, Shaburov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 4 – For most Russians the past few months, the most important issue has been the question of whether and when the state will step in to regulate electric scooters which have exploded in number over the last year at least in part because there are no regulations in place to limit their use, Aleksey Shaburov says.

            Electric scooters appeared because they were an inexpensive way to get around and because there were no special government regulations that had to be overcome, the Yekaterinburg commentator says. Instead, these transportation devices have been left as unregulated as are pedestrians (

            “In front of us,” Shaburov continues, “is nothing other than a kind of natural state, a state when there is no state and citizens are on their own. Yes, it concerns a distinct and narrow sphere of life, but it exists. And what do we see?” People in such a state quickly come into conflict with each other and can’t resolve these conflicts on their own.

            Many on electric scooters won’t slow down to avoid hitting pedestrians, and many pedestrians won’t give way to the electric scooters. A large number of both are doing the right thing “but not all.” And consequently, Russians can see that they can’t regulate such disputes without the aid of the government; and both groups are seeking regulation.

            There is an increasing recognition that the state must step in, but if this case is a test for society, it is also a test for the state, Shaburov says. It hasn’t wanted to get involved, and it certainly hasn’t chosen either a complete ban, “an extremely negative option,” or some arrangement that would make everyone happy, “an extremely positive one.”

            Most likely, the outcome will be somewhere in between, he continues. “The question is which of these it will be closer to.”

            That makes this “an ideal test of the effectiveness of the Russian government.” The citizens are asking for it to make rule, and the state authorities are being forced to intervene even if they don’t want to. They thus “must fulfill the very function for which in fact they were set up in the first place.”

            As a result, the outcome will tell us “just how well the state system works in Russia.” This may seem a small thing, but it will speak to much larger issues and inform demands on both sides in many much larger ones.

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