Staunton, June 9 – One of the ways long-haul drivers who are continuing to refuse to pay the new Plato fees is to avoid as much as possible driving on federal highways, the only roadways where the pay-per-ton system now applies. Instead, they are using regional and local roads and, because of their weight, damaging their surfaces.
Next week, the transportation ministry is hosting a conference in Sochi on the Plato system and its future. Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Drozdenko says that he will use the occasion to extend the Plato system to regional and local roads both to raise money for roads and to protect secondary roads from heavy trucks (regnum.ru/news/economy/2285974.html).
Drozdenko is especially concerned about this because his is a port region and there are more secondary roads that drivers can and do use. But the publicity that the Regnum news agency is giving his call suggests that others may support this call at the June 14 meeting, thus raising the stakes for the truckers, striking and otherwise.
More details are emerging about the efforts of the authorities to close down the parking area on the Moscow ring road strikers have been using. The police brought in an excavator, the drivers decided not to resist, but they parked their trucks in ways to complicate the efforts of the authorities to remove them (newizv.ru/news/society/08-06-2017/k-bastuyuschim-dalnoboyschikam-priehala-politsiya-s-evakuatorom-0da147fb-3417-4797-b58d-02c5834ae448).
The police operation was overseen by senior officers, including five or six colonels, according to the drivers, who said that they were not ending their action but very much fear that in the near term, the authorities may use force against them.
Another development which both reflects the concerns of the drivers but may also be something the authorities hope to use to divide them and to deprive them of support is the announcement today that this weekend, there will be flashmobs in six major cities to call attention to the poor quality of Russia’s roads (ria.ru/society/20170609/1496174904.html).
The cities in question are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ioshkar-Ola, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Irkutsk.