Long-haul truck drivers in cities throughout Russia launched a nationwide strike March 27 against a further hike in onerous federal highway taxes levied against them. With truckers taking part from Vladivostock to Smolensk and from Dagestan to Yamal, the action is far larger than the state-media acknowledges, according to the Russian paper Novaya Gazeta.
In the North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan thousands of truckers joined the protest actions. In response, the government in Moscow deployed hundreds of National Guard and riot police to the area, detaining several strike leaders. In the village of Manas, troops surrounded hundreds of drivers and their vehicles March 31. But the drivers, above, refused to disperse, telling reporters they wouldn’t leave until their demands were met. The troops left two days later. The protests reflect a deeper disquiet at the economic crisis facing workers as the capitalist rulers’ economy remains depressed.
The tax was met with a first round of protests when it was put into effect in 2015. It imposes the ruble equivalent of about a 4 cents per mile levy on trucks weighing more than 12 tons. During those protests, truckers said this ate up 10 percent of their income from every trip.
This January the government announced plans to double the tax. On March 24, three days before the planned truckers’ strike, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the tax increase would be revised to 25 percent instead. Collection of these funds is done for a profit by a private company owned by the son of one of President Vladimir Putin’s cronies.