How do you even start to explain this story?

Russia has detained an award-winning prison chief on suspicion of stealing a 30 mile-long public road,

What?

Someone stole a road?

I mean, but….I worked in Russia in the 90s, have seen just about every scam possible. Up to and including people stealing the gallium from the solar neutrino experiment, decanting it into 2 litre pepsi bottles and then smuggling it into Finland. But stealing a road?

34 thoughts on “How do you even start to explain this story?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    The road, which consisted of more than 7,000 concrete slabs, was “dismantled and driven away” piece by piece, accoridng to a statement issued by Russian investigators.

    Communist countries like making things out of concrete slabs. I assume it is a legacy of Khrushchev and the fact that their tanks probably used all the tar as a fuel. Their airfields are often made of concrete slabs too. It makes sense someone might rip the slabs up and sell them. They would have a value.

    He appears to have been among the Russian prison service’s leading lights and was handes a medal for creating “spiritual unity” among inmates, according to a prison website quoted by AFP.

    Spiritual unity? Oh yes?

    But he is not really trying:

    The construction of a mountain road for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 cost about £5 billion, with Russian media claiming it would cost the same to cover the 29-mile stretch with black caviar.

    Now that is corruption!

  2. In USSR days, several complete trains (long ones with several carriages, not just locomotives) were stolen and some never found I believe.

  3. The Russians have no grasp of economics – the cost of dismantling the road and carting it away must have been greater than the value of the concrete slabs.

  4. Did the guys who built that Sochi road get the contract to do the M3? The current business of turning it into a ‘smart’ motorway is taking longer than it took to build the damn thing.

  5. @Kevin B

    I worked in east London, lodging up there during the week and driving back home to Southampton at the weekends. For the 9 years I was there, there were always road-works on some point of the M25 northern half whilst they widened it. 9 fuckingy ears!. The when you got through that, there was the northern section of the M3. Road works with no workers, of course.

    I got so fed up I bought a second car to keep in Southampton so I could go home by train.

    What a country.

  6. It has long been my belief that roadworks are one of the chief local–if not national–gubmint scams in this country.

    How many times do the roadwork twats return to the same piece of road they just left a few weeks before. How many times are there long local delays and when you pass the site there are 2 maybe 3 blokes at work. Doing more with less?–maybe–but maybe not. The roads around my way have more scars than a burned-out boxing knife-fighter after a battle with a Glasgow razor gang. The same roads get visit after visit after visit.

    As part of a general local gov audit -because corruption in this country long ago reached 3rd world levels tho it is concealed more effectively–roadworks should feature prominently. The old “wages for 10 men but only 5-4-3 etc doing the job and the rest are kickbacks” is my favourite for how it works.

  7. “Highway robbery.”

    Ha ha. This story reminds me of the Father aged episode when they try to get Bishop Brennan to stay overnight.

    “They’ve taken the roads in”.
    “They’ve taken the roads in?”

  8. “The Russians have no grasp of economics – the cost of dismantling the road and carting it away must have been greater than the value of the concrete slabs.”

    In absolute terms probably but it depends on who the costs and benefits fell.

  9. “You never know, with any luck somebody will steal HS2.”

    So long as the HoC gang are on board when they nick it. As ballast –for what other use could they serve?

    Hey–perhaps the entire HS2 caper is a Russian scam to steal several English beauty spots and re-locate them overseas somewhere.

    Which would still be more moral than vandalising them to give your corporate socialist mates lucrative contracts for a fucking toy-train set.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    I have just had a vision of what they did with the slabs – Russia’s own Stonehenge.

    30 miles of concrete slabs would make for a great monument of monoliths. I would go and see it.

  11. How many times do the roadwork twats return to the same piece of road they just left a few weeks before. How many times are there long local delays and when you pass the site there are 2 maybe 3 blokes at work.

    It was always interesting looking at roadworks on the Friarton Bridge (carries the motorway from Fife in to Tayside just to the east of Perth.)

    A cynic would note that it was really quite close to one of the council roadworks depots.

    It doesn’t mean that the bridge wasn’t a crap design, build or both. But it was extremely suspicious.

  12. In France, the roads are smooth as a billiard table and you never see any roadworks. In the UK, the roads are more cracked than a prostitute’s lips and they’re always being dug up.

  13. Andrew – you don’t see roadworks in France because they don’t f*ck about for months doing them! As a fairly frequent user of the French road system it amused me to watch them build about 30Km of autoroute round Nevers in (considerably) less time than it took to alter a roundabout just outside Dudley (West Mids) to a set of traffic lights…

    I always found it depressing after driving across France on beautiful smooth roads then getting off the ferry and onto the surface-of-the-moon-like M20.

  14. France does have its shit roads, and when they are bad they are really bad.

    On balance though road surfaces there are far superior to over here. It may be that they are less busy, or they are built better, who knows? Even the weather might be a factor.

    I’m sure shit management plays its part though. Bear me is a busy road with a blocked drain which always floods the road after even moderate rainfall. The traffic has ripped up the Tarmac around this drain to the point where he hole is about 8 inches wide and about 3 deep. It is a serious hazard to traffic and had been so for at least two weeks.

    Yesterday it was patched. It rained overnight and the same huge flood is still there. So in a month’s time the same job will need to be repeated.

  15. Frost is the killler of UK roads. Given that most of France is much milder than the UK you can see why Froggy roads are smoother.

    Probably find that concrete slab roads resist frost better than tarmac (but not theives) which would explain why the Russians use them.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Kevin B

    Did the guys who built that Sochi road get the contract to do the M3? The current business of turning it into a ‘smart’ motorway is taking longer than it took to build the damn thing.”

    I used the M3 regularly in 1991 and 1992 and then intermittently since. I was on it on Tuesday and it go me wondering if there’s been a period of more than a few weeks in all those years when there hasn’t been at least one lane between the A303 and M25 closed for some reason ? If there has I was unlucky not experience it.

  17. France does have its shit roads, and when they are bad they are really bad.

    True, but rarely the Autoroutes.

    On balance though road surfaces there are far superior to over here. It may be that they are less busy, or they are built better, who knows? Even the weather might be a factor.

    If we’re comparing motorways with Autoroutes, it is probably because the Autoroutes are tolled and managed privately: if the surface deteriorates, or they clog it up with roadworks, people will stop using it. For reference, it costs me about 90 Euros to use the A6/A40 from Paris to Annecy and back, 580km or so each way. The diesel costs about 90-100 Euros, so the tolls double the journey price. Yet everyone uses them because they are good, and the quality of the surface has a lot to do with that: if they were full of cones, lorries, and potholes you’d be better off taking the free roads and saving yourself 100 Euros.

  18. “Nah. France’s Autoroute Blanche gets covered in snow, and the surface is perfect.”

    That’s because it *gets* covered in snow.. it doesn’t get soaked, then frozen up a bit later ( repeat n times each winter ) which will ruin the surface.

    Repair of holes is the price you pay for visibility during rain. Whether or not this repair is actually executed, and why, and how is another matter.

  19. Out here in Taiwan, responsibility for the maintenance of inner city roads goes through city government to local “borough wardens” who allegedly have the job done on the cheap by awarding the contract to such and such’s uncle’s company, and then pockets the rest of the budget to spend on fireworks and other shite during Chinese New Year. Result is subsidence, potholes five or six foot deep and the occasional 50cc grandma in the hospital with a claim against the city government.

  20. Gee, but I’m lonesome, lonesome and blue.
    I’ve found out something I never knew.
    I know now what it means to be sad,
    For I’ve lost the best road I ever had;
    It only left yesterday, Somebody stole it away.

    Somebody stole my road
    Somebody stole my road
    Somebody came
    And took it away
    He didn’t even
    Say he was thievin’

    The drivin’ I miss so
    He’s getting now I know,
    And Gee! I know that it
    Would come to me,
    The perfect fit
    The route from work to my abode,
    Somebody stole my road

  21. Roads are the only things in our everyday world that can be discontinuous in space and time and yet retain their identity.

  22. The climate in Kent is essentially the same as in Pas-de-Calais, yet the M20/M2 are in far worse shape than the equivalent roads (A16/A26) in France. So I can’t accept frost as the excuse.

  23. I would suggest that the autoroutes of Belgium are even worse than the UK but that the Dutch seem able to maintain theirs to reasonable standards. Both Belgium and the Netherlands have similar climates to the UK.

  24. That’s because it *gets* covered in snow.. it doesn’t get soaked, then frozen up a bit later ( repeat n times each winter ) which will ruin the surface.

    Yes, it does. When I said “covered in snow” I meant sometimes, not permanently throughout the winter. They’ll be as much freeze-thaw on that as you’d find anywhere.

  25. -dcardno

    Completely closed tarmac is more or less impervious to frost.
    It also accumulates a film of water at the merest hint of rain, which gives that nice visibility-reducing spray.

    You can counter that by making the top layer of the road porous, so that any water on the road seeps through to a deeper layer, before running off. ( usually along a much steeper slope you can’t afford using for the surface.)
    This gives you a dry road with *much* reduced spray, and consequently much better visibility, under most weather. conditions.
    The most advanced type of kind of tarmac has been developed here in the Netherlands, and is almost exclusively used here. Good thing, because our weather features, well, rain.

    The disadvantage is that the top layer will always contain pockets of water, which has the nasty tendency to expand when it freezes, causing shards to fly off if it happens too suddenly, or when you haven’t used enough of the proper ( you need a potassium-rich mixture to retard flushing out) salt in preparation for winter.

    Hence the visibility/pothole duality in modern tarmac.

  26. They repair the ‘motorways’ here in an amazing rolling process with the road saurface being ripped up at the front and white lines put down on the (still hot) asphalt at the rear. They can resurface huge lengths of the road in a day…

    The result is that you are generally diverted off the ‘motorway’ at one junction and back on at the next – it is very impressive.

    Local roads are utter shite tho…

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