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Truck Drivers In Russia Continue Strike Against Road Tax


Truck drivers near St. Petersburg take part in protests against a road tax.
Truck drivers near St. Petersburg take part in protests against a road tax.

Hundreds of Russian truck drivers continued their strike for the third day, demanding the government repeal a road tax they say is onerous and ineffective.

An organizer on March 29 told the French AFP news agency the strike will continue "at least until April 15."

Mikhail Kurbatov, coordinator of the Organization of Russian Carriers, said the biggest number of strikers are in the North Caucasus republic of Daghestan, where "95 percent of truck drivers are participating."

He estimated that 200 truck drivers were striking in St. Petersburg and 170 in the Tyumen region in western Siberia.

Another coordinator, Andrei Bazhutin, head of the United Truckers of Russia, was detained in St. Petersburg on March 27 and sentenced to 14 days of administrative arrest for driving without a license. On March 29, his term in custody was shortened to five days.

Organizers have said they expect at least 10,000 truckers to eventually take part in the strike.

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.

The text of the resolution indicates that no further increase is currently planned.

Platon is managed by a company owned by a son of Arkady Rotenberg, an oligarch who was once President Vladimir Putin's judo sparring partner.

With reporting by AFP, The Washington Post, OVD-Info, and
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