Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, April 28, 2017

A truck in the ointment

A few thousand trucks, that is. Putin hopes things stay quiet as he plans on a reelection campaign next year. But long distance truck drivers might be omens of disquiet.

The latest protest Moscow is trying to ignore: Thousands of angry truckers
striking truckers
It stretched from horizon to horizon, like some giant, many-colored, mechanical caterpillar, and it was angry, very angry. It was an apparently endless line of truck cabs, air horns booming, mighty engines revving, clogging the narrow highway that skirts the Caspian Sea…

Their drivers, hundreds of them, were trying to send a message to a federal government that seems to tune out quieter civic protests…

The truckers in this recent rally in Dagestan were part of a nationwide strike by thousands of drivers who say that a road tax, which the Russian government just increased, is making it impossible for them to earn a living…

Like many of the protesters in the nationwide rallies against corruption that brought out tens of thousands on March 26, the truckers say their demands are economic, not political. And although the anti-corruption protest was a one-day event, the truckers are still out there…

The truckers are protesting “Platon,” a toll-collecting system that charges heavy trucks by the kilometer. It was first rolled out in 2015. Truckers protested at the time, despite the government’s insistence that the toll was necessary to improve roads, and the Kremlin’s assertion that nepotism had nothing to do with the fact that the company that manages the system is run by the son of a wealthy businessman who is Putin’s former judo sparring partner…

The protest has spread to more than 60 cities, said Ilya Shablinsky, a member of Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights…

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