Staunton, May 19 – In advance of the meeting between the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the striking long-haul drivers, union activists say that they are organizing columns of trucks to converge on the Russian capital to show that the strike is still going on and that the government must make concessions.
This show of force is especially important, activists say, because both regional governments and Moscow officials, after initially signaling a willingness to compromise have now taken a tougher line against the truckers (gorcom36.ru/content/protest-voronezhskikh-dalnoboyshchikov-zabastovka-perekhodit-na-vakhtovyy-metod/ and vrntimes.ru/articles/obshchestvo/peregovory-voronezhskih-dalnoboyshchikov-s-mestnymi-vlastyami-zashli-v-tupik).
Although the number of striking trucks has declined over the last several weeks as drivers sought to earn money for their families after five weeks off work and in the hopes that the authorities were coming around, the Carriers Union says that many truckers are angry and plan to drive to Moscow (obozrevatel.ru/news/mariya-pazuhina-pri-neobhodimosti-peregovory-dalnoboyshchikov-s-pravitelstvom-v-moskve-podderzhat-100-fur.html).
It is entirely possible and perhaps even likely that officials will try to block the convoy, but union leaders point out that they have “no legal basis” for stopping the convoys which plan to proceed on Moscow’s ring road. That sets the stage for a possible confrontation within earshot of Western embassies and journalists.
The Kremlin clearly doesn’t want that, and its extraordinary measures to end a strike at a gold mine in the Transbaikal over the last few days, measures that included providing a massive infusion of government money and the unscheduled return from Mongolia of key Russian officials, show that the Kremlin is worried about strike actions spreading and may be pressured to make concessions (asiarussia.ru/news/16329/ and nakanune.ru/news/2017/5/19/22470463/).
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