Thursday, March 30, 2017

Long-Haul Truckers Now Understand Putin is Their Problem, Leader Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 30 – When the long-haul truckers struck earlier against new tariffs, they sought to avoid politics; but now Aleksandr Rastoguyev, one of their leaders, says, ever more of them understand that they have to become political because Vladimir Putin and no one else is the source of their problems.

            As a result, those taking part in the strike which has grown since its Monday start have made the ouster of the government and expressions of distrust in Putin their primary demands, with economic ones now in second place (

            It is still the case, Rastoguyev continues, that many are afraid to speak out “against Putin, but some are already prepared to strike in order to express distrust in the president.” As far as calling for the replacement of the government, there already exists a consensus.” That marks a major shift in opinion.

            “A year ago, all as one shouted, ‘Putin, help us,” and believed in the Russian state, a good tsar and bad boyars,” but now that has changed.  Some remain on the sidelines out of fear of the OMON and the police, and others do so because television says that “politics is a dirty business.” But the share of such people is declining.

            That pattern is consistent with the conclusions of surveys conducted by the Russian Academy of the Economy and State Service which shows significant declines in trust of officials at the municipal, regional and national level and a small decline in popular trust for Putin personally (
            The trucker’s strike has now spread to some 50 regions of the country, with the number of strikers being especially high in the North Caucasus (On the situation there, see the review at

            Up to now, the Russian authorities have remained “silent” about the trucker’s strike, being more concerned with “the mass meetings of young people” last Sunday instead. “The actions of the long-haul truckers still interest” few in the regime or in the media. That needs to change, Rastoguyev says; and the truckers are thinking about how to attract more attention.

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