Special Highway for Russia’s wealthy and privileged to bypass traffic

It’s known as the “special highway” — a wide, flat road, with a lane down the middle, that links the Kremlin with President Vladimir V. Putin’s residence in the pine woods, 14 miles outside of Moscow.

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Reserved by law for emergencies, the median lane is used mostly by Russia’s wealthy and privileged to bypass traffic. To have access to the lane has become a status symbol, the main currency in Russia today.

The road, which runs through Kutuzovsky and Novy Arbat Avenues, is special in another way, too. Unlike most multiple-lane highways in Russia, this one has no safety barriers to separate traffic flows and discourage pedestrians from being on the road. It is one of the deadliest thoroughfares in the city, according to police reports and traffic experts.

At least five deaths in accidents on the highway in 2017, and two more this year, were related to the lack of a median barrier. To some, the existence of the special highway without its safety barrier tells a story in microcosm of today’s Russia, where a culture of privilege defines society.

Traffic gets fully blocked for cars carrying Mr. Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev. Only certain cars with special license plates are permitted to use the middle lane, and violators are swiftly moved aside by the police.