Law in the Moscow Metro
Everything you can and can not do in Moscow's underground.
When you're a tourist in a major city, you always do the same things. You walk more than you'd want to, eat things you don't want to, and see beautiful buildings all over the city. Moscow is no different in this regard, with magnificent buildings and landmarks like the Kremlin and the Red Square. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of the Russian capital though, is below the ground. The Moscow Metro.

The strange thing about this 'Palace for the People', however, is that you aren't allowed to film it. In fact, according to the Moscow Metro Terms of Use, you aren't even allowed to take pictures of the Moscow Central Circle (line 14, an above ground railway system which uses the same fare system as the metro). So you could board your plane home with wonderful movies and photo's of St. Basil's Cathedral and the Bolshoi Theatre, but legally speaking, any of your own videos you have of say metro station Prospekt Mira would be illegal.

According to Veronika Silina, spokesperson for the Moscow Metropolitan (responsible for the Moscow public transport), this is because it is 'prohibited to create situations that interfere with the movement of passenger traffic'. "In connection with this, film and video shooting on the territory of the Moscow Metro is only possible with the written permission of the metro authorities. If video shooting is carried out without permission, the station or police officers may demand the shooting to be stopped."

Although amateur photography is not prohibited in the Russian metro system, you aren't allowed to use 'professional equipment, tripods and flash'. This isn't because Russia only wants you to make boring pictures, but due to safety concerns. Let's say you're a driver of a busy rush hour metro, when all of a sudden someone thought it would be nice to take a picture of a moving train. The bright, white light blinds you, you miss the platform and collide with the train in front. Massive casualties, all not very good. Silina also says it is ' unfavourable for the operator's eyes'. The tripods are also prohibited due to safety reasons, as it 'makes it difficult for passengers to move, and during rush hour can be very traumatic', says Silina.

This isn't the only strange thing about the Terms of Use. It has the obvious things, like you're supposed to be able to prove you're allowed to use the transport system, and that smoking inside is prohibited, but it also says you're allowed to use a wheelchair. Now you must be thinking, why is that a strange thing? Well, seeing as most of the Metro was built in a time period when the government said the USSR had no invalids, the Moscow underground was built without any elevators. What so ever. Although some stations have recently had elevators installed, most of the time the only way you can move up and down is by stairs, or if you're lucky escalators.

And even if you can somehow get to the platform, the gap between the platform and car is still more than noticeable. So saying you're allowed to bring a wheelchair in the Metro is like saying you're allowed to bring an ice cream into a steam room. That is why many websites advise against using the Metro if you're disabled.

According to Silina, however, the situation is improving. "Currently 39 metro stations are equipped with elevators and wheelchair lifts and can be considered accessible for the movement of less mobile people. Accesibility environment works are underway for the improvement of the vestibules, which include expanded turnstibles, entrance doors, ramps and tactile pointers for the visually impaired passengers. We are conducting systematic work to improve the accessibility for all passengers, and we're listening to feedback from our passengers all the time."


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