Truck Drivers In Russia Continue Strike Against Road Tax
Kremlin Tells Media Not to Report Truckers Strike But It is Still Happening and SpreadingHundreds of Russian truck drivers continued their strike for the third day, demanding the government repeal a road tax they say is onerous and ineffective.
The Platon road-tax system was imposed in 2015, sparking a wave of protests by truckers, who have said it is an enrichment scheme rather than a genuine tax to improve roads.
The current protests follow a January 31 government decision to double the Platon fee -- increasing it from 1.53 rubles ($0.03) to 3.06 rubles per kilometer -- as of April 15.
But Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a resolution on March 24 increasing the tax by a more modest 25 percent immediately, making it 1.91 rubles per kilometer.
Truckers Now on Strike in Almost Every Federal Subject of RussiaThe long-haul truckers strike, the largest and most consequential labor action in Russia since the end of the USSR, is a development few Russians and even fewer people abroad know about because the Kremlin has given an order to the central and regional media outlets to understate the size of the action and the motives behind it.
In the Republic of Daghestan, among the most Islamist and conservative federal subjects in Russia, the government media havent covered the strikers but denounced them as threats to the stability of the country. In addition, these outlets have claimed that the truckers have put false video clips on the Internet. Despite this, the number of truckers taking part in the south of Russia continues to grow.
This suggests that the Russian regime is under a lot of stress due to the low oil prices and austerity. Just like here, these protests likely foreshadow the decline of an over-centralised and oligarchical regime in the long run. Unlike Ireland, Russia mightn't be able to hold itself together if it liberalises too much though. Individual regions might formally secede, or just ignore the central government as it suits them and form fiefdoms under local elites. Like Chechnya right now.Andrey Bazhutkin, the leader of the united long-haul truckers organization, says that drivers are now on strike in more than 80 regions of Russia, an overwhelming majority whether one counts the total as 83 or 85 with the illegal addition of Russian-occupied Crimea and Sevastopol.
The strikers are holding firm not only because they believe they have nothing to lose an estimated 600,000 of them would lose their jobs if the Plato system is put in place but also because they are gaining support from other groups in the population and some in the regional governments like Tatarstan whose State Legislature may call on the Federal Duma to cancel the Plato system .
And with each passing day, the strikers are becoming more unified and politically radical, with some in the North Caucasus now demanding that senior figures in the Russian government, including Dmitry Medvedev, meet with them and negotiate over their grievances