By Paul Goble
The Carriers Union says that Russian truckers will resume their strike in more than 50 federal subjects from December 15 to 25 to press their demands for an end to the Plato system they struck against earlier and are now preparing for their leader, Andrey Bazhutin, to be a candidate in the presidential elections next March.
While their earlier strike and many like it did not change the government’s policies, the truckers say that they will adopt the same approach and are making the same demands in the hopes that these will gain greater traction during the presidential campaign, especially if they have their own candidate (ng.ru/politics/2017-11-15/1_7115_dalnoboy.html).
In addition to demanding a change in the government’s road use fee system and its monitoring of the truckers, the drivers are also seeking a vote of no confidence in Vladimir Putin and the replacement of the current Russian government. The latter should happen, Bazhutin says, before the elections take place.
The union leader says that the date of the strike was chosen in order to maximize the influence of the drivers, given that their strike will disrupt deliveries at a holiday time – and at a time when it appears presidential candidates will be seeking registration with the government authorities.
Bazhutin adds that his campaign and the strike are parallel actions not one in the same but he insists that the protest by the drivers now must be considered not simply economic but political. And he stressed that the readiness of the 10,000 members of his union to take part in this demonstration underscores that fact.
Drivers in Daghestan apparently are reluctant to join in, but the Carriers Union head points out that they were never part of his union but rather joined the strike in parallel with its own earlier this year. Many of them, whatever their leadership now says, he implies, are likely to do the same in the future.
In its report about these plans, Nezavisimaya gazeta cites the conclusions of Nikolay Mironov, the head of the Moscow Center for Economic and Political Reforms that any purely economic protest is likely to fail because its participants are divided, are unwilling to confront the powers directly, and can be fooled by false concessions into backing down.
Bazhutin and his union clearly hope that that will not be the case this time around.