The ‘Avatar Fare’ – Russian Taxi Drivers Are Punishing Clients Who Refuse to Pay by Painting Them Blue

Taxi drivers in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod have taken it upon themselves to punish misbehaving clients. These drivers simply pour blue paint all over passengers who complain about the taxi fare or flat out refuse to pay. Their idea is to make the customers resemble Avatar characters, with a sign on the back that says: “Avatar Fare”.

Cabbies all over Nizhny have been struggling for quite some time now with non-paying customers. “We have repeatedly brought them to the police station, they were released there,” one driver said. So the drivers decided to dole out some ‘harmless’ punishment themselves. They force bad customers to strip, douse them with blue paint, stick a sign on their backs, and release them on to the street.


Most cab drivers feel that this ‘humane act’ is not illegal. All they’re doing is painting people and asking them to walk. Of course, the affected passengers don’t quite look at it the same way. One enraged customer who had to run across the city naked, smeared with blue paint, was dead against the ‘mockery’. He simply did not have enough money to pay the taxi fare of 150 rubles, for which he was punished.


“They pushed me out of the car, started beating me,” he said. “Threatened me that if I do not find the money, they will put me on the counter. One minute equals 100 rubles. They threw me into a pit and doused me with blue paint. After that, I was made to run the streets of the city, looking for money.”


So far, the police are turning a blind eye to these proceedings. Even though videos of the Russian ‘avatar people’ are all over the internet, no action has been taken against cab drivers in the city, yet. But some lawyers do feel that there are sufficient grounds for legal action, hooliganism being one of them. They’re just waiting for a few victims to come forward and register a complaint.

People who have watched the videos online have expressed outrage as well – they think it’s unfair for passengers not to pay the fare, but also that the drivers are taking things a bit too far. Obviously, painting people is not a good way to solve your problems. But I do think it could be immensely satisfying. Perhaps the next time someone annoys me, I should at least imagine dumping a bucket of paint on their head. That ought to cheer me up!



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