Thursday, April 13, 2017

Russian Truckers Win a Victory: Moscow Begins to ‘Flinch,’ Svobodnaya Pressa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 13 – As their strike heads into its third week, Russia’s long-haul truckers have won an important victory: Valentina Matviyenko, the Federal Council speaker, has “flinched,” in the words of Svobodnaya pressa and ordered two committee of her chamber to look into the Plato system, the main Moscow policy the strikers object to.

            Given that Vladimir Putin has done everything he can to prevent coverage or discussion of the strike and that the strikers have said from the beginning that their very first goal is to get Russia’s senior leadership to pay attention to their grievances, Matviyenko’s action represents a serious victory for them.

            In reporting it under the title, “The Powers have Flinched,” Svobodnaya pressa notes that yesterday the Federation Council speaker directed that body’s committees on economic policy and on the budget to “analyze the basis and effectiveness of the ‘Plato system’” of collecting fees from the truckers to build roads (

            Matviyenko’s declaration followed one by Vyacheslav Markkhayev, a KPRF senator from Buryatia, who argued that it was “already impossible to ignore the protests of the long-haul drivers” and that the Plato system did not appear to be a good way to ensure “the construction of normal quality highways.”

            It is of course true that governments often send for study those things that they want to bury by drawing out the examination process. But it is also the case that Matviyenko clearly feels that she has no option but to do something – and that reality is something that the drivers and their supporters can build on.

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