Staunton, VA, May 8, 2017 – Long-haul truckers in Kursk suspended their strike over the weekend but only after officials there agreed not to raise fees or fines on them, yet another indication that the five-week old labor action has brought some real success and is not petering out as Moscow media continue to suggest.
But the drivers may be about to win an even bigger victory: they may help force the Kremlin to replace Dagestan Republic head Ramazan Abdulatipov because his tone-deaf unwillingness to deal with the drivers has sent his rating to the bottom of all regional heads.
In other developments, numerous truckers and their leaders took an active part in the demonstrations activists organized in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov and other cities on Saturday, the fifth anniversary of the massive Bolotnaya Square demonstrations of 2012.
And yesterday, long-haul drivers held a meeting in Ioshkar-Ola, the capital of Mari El, at which they adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of transport fees including the Platon system ones, a revision of rules governing how much cargo they can carry, and compensation for the special costs of using federal highways.
The drivers, who were operating under the direction of the Russian Carriers Union, sent their resolution to Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian ombudsman for entrepreneurial rights, the procurator general, the transportation minister, the speakers of both houses of parliament, the acting head of Mari El and the speaker of the State Assembly of the republic.
The Mari El authorities had given the drivers permission to assemble, but republic justice ministry officials required that speakers where badges on which their names would be clearly visible. The truckers came up with a compromise which the officials accepted: they wrote their names on a plain piece of paper and handed it in.
Local Mari civic activists, Andrey Svistunov and Yury Shalangin, also spoke at the meeting, with the former expressing regret that more non-truckers had not come to show solidarity. Both argued that they should because the government’s moves against the truckers parallel those against bus companies which have cost Ioshkar-Ola residents many routes.