Staunton, May 21 – Maksim Sokolov, the Russian transportation minister, for the second time has refused to meet with representatives of the striking long-haul truckers, according to Maria Pazukhina of the Carriers Union, and Russian police began arresting drivers to try to end the strike or at least prevent convoys from coming to Moscow.
As a result, the union has decided to challenge the government in court rather than putting its hopes for a more positive response by executive branch officials, even though the Russian system is such that the executive branch will use the courts against the drivers now that it appears to have decided to adopt a harder line (nakanune.ru/news/2017/05/19/22470555
Russian truckers had expected to have a meeting with Sokolov on May 17. That didn’t happen. The session was rescheduled for tomorrow, but the transportation minister has made it clear that he won’t take part in that session either (obozrevatel.ru/news/ministr-transporta-sokolov-otkazalsya-vstrechatsya-s-dalnoboyshchikami.html).
Pazukhina says that “if representatives of the government and Minister Sokolov have taken a fine decision to ignore the strikers, then the strike will shift from an economic protest to a social-political one” that will seek to involve other societal groups. She added that truckers coming to Moscow plan to park along the ring road.
Russian police appear to have other ideas: they have detained six to ten people in Khimki over the last 24 hours in order to prevent the truckers from bringing their rigs onto the ring road, something intended to put pressure on Moscow (ovdinfo.org/express-news/2017/05/21/v-himkah-zaderzhali-protestuyushchih-protiv-sistemy-platon-dalnoboyshchikov).
Those detained in this instance included not only union activists but drivers and according to some reports journalists who were covering the strike action. It is quite likely that police elsewhere have taken similar actions, but this one is the first to be reported on the Russian Internet.