Russia: the truckers' protest against Putin and the Platon fee
The truckers' protest against new taxes is a rare example of opposition to the power. And it is a proof that, when their interests are involved, the Russians make their voices heard.
- Tuesday, 15 December 2015
One of the proofs that some historians cite to prove the complicity of the entire German people to the Holocaust, is the interruption of Aktion T4. The Nazi eugenic program that consisted in sterilization and even suppression of all the mentally ill and disabled Germans, considered incurable. The Reich was forced to stop the Aktion T4 due to the strong protests of the relatives of the sick. Similar protests neve r took place when the same fate hit the Jews.
Now, using the same method, one could argue that the protests held by Russians truckers these days against the new taxes on the road are proof that when it comes to take the streets against Putin, Russians do it . And that if this doesn’t happen when individual freedoms or LGBT rights, or the war in Ukraine, are at stakes is because, after all, they just don’t care.
A lot of money
Truck drivers begun to protest in the middle of November, when Platon, the fee of three rubles, about five euro cents, per kilometer, was put into operation. Only transport over 12 tons pay, and that explains its name from the Russian for "pay per tonne."
Russia is an enormous country and trucks drive through its 11 time zones. It is clear that a tax mileage weighs particularly. Many drivers are owners of thei trucks and work for themselves. Platon goes fishing directly into their pockets.
So far, according to the Moscow Times, it has already collected 800 million rubles to be paid to Rt-Invest to improve road conditions.
There is a particular, though, that enrages truckers. Rt-Invest belongs to Igor Rotemberg, 42-year old son of the oligarch Arkady Rotemberg, a close friend of Putin and considered the richest man in Russia.
According to the truckers leading the unrest, it is a fee to further enrich the Rotembergs.
The March on Moscow
Truck drivers are threatening to plunge thousands in Moscow with their truck and block the capital. So far the police stopped them on the outskirts of Moscow, mostly with gimmicks, prohibiting to stop on the roadside or doing alcohol test repeatedly.
The interesting aspect of all this lies in their determination to go against the government to get what they want. We're not talking about an educated elite, a progressive minority. We are talking about the working class that is the backbone of support for Putin, and that has no political aims nor has any sympathy for the opposition.
“The social contract that is the foundation of Putin-era stability — citizens do not get involved in politics, and the government, in exchange, offers material well-being and aspires to keep out of people’s pockets — has been violated,” wrote journalist for the Kommersant Andrei Pertsev.
If it is true, amidst economic sanctions and the oil floating at 40 dollars, Putin needs to get busy, and not only with wars abroad.