In early April, Ingush lorry drivers joined a nationwide protests against the ‘Platon’ road tax. The protesters urged the authorities to abolish the tax because, they argue, they already pay enough through fuel excise duty.
‘At the beginning, more than 20 vehicles participated in the Ingush lorry drivers’ protest, but every day their number has been increasing’, Azamat, a lorry driver told OC Media.
‘Drivers from other countries passing through express their solidarity. Yesterday two lorries from Ukraine stood with us for two days as a sign of solidarity’, Azamat said.
So far, the authorities have not denounced the striking drivers. On Sunday, several government officials visited the drivers and concluded that they weren’t violating the law.
Several weeks ago, the All-Russian Association of Drivers began a country-wide protest. Lorry drivers have been setting up columns of vehicles along roadsides across Russia, demanding the abolition or reduction of the Platon tax. The tax was originally supposed to increase twofold on 15 April: from ₽1.53 ($0.03) to ₽3.06 ($0.05) per kilometre. On 24 March, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that the tax would rise to only ₽1.91 ($0.03) per kilometre, a 25% increase.
In addition to abolishing the Platon tax, Russian lorry drivers have also expressed opposition towards President Vladimir Putin, and have put forward political demands such as the resignation of the government. Daghestan has seen the most active protest in the North Caucasus, gathering more than 1,500 vehicles and 2,000 protesters. The police have made several attempts to disperse the protesters, but the drivers have continued their rally.
The protesting lorry drivers have not been covered by Russian state media.