Leonid Bershidsky
February 20, 2013

If I had to choose a single word to describe the dominant attitude in Russian society, it would be “mistrust.” The meteor, or possibly small asteroid, that exploded over the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15 illustrated this as few other events could.

The world saw the meteor thanks to the dashboard cameras that are so common in Russian cars. U.S. publications from the New Yorker to Wired delighted in writing about the dash cam phenomenon, unheard of in the U.S. or Europe. Russians use the devices because they cannot trust police, judges, insurance companies or witnesses in case of a fender bender. A camera providing incontrovertible evidence pays for itself even if the accident is relatively minor. According to the government-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, in 2011 Russians bought 300,000 dash cams, and in 2012 the market probably more than doubled.

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