Staunton, May 26 – The Yekaterinburg branch of the Carriers Union of Russia has applied for a permit to allow 20 truckers to circle the city on its ring road to protest the Plato fee system. Organizers say that they do not know whether the city will give its approval or how many truckers may in fact show up if it does (nakanune.ru/news/2017/05/26/22471231 and e1.ru/news/spool/news_id-469089.html).
They have put an estimate of 20 on their application but note that there are only six truckers still at the strike parking lot there and that the recent arrest of strikers on Moscow’s ring road, while infuriating many by its brutality, including against women (novayagazeta.ru/news/2017/05/25/131896-pravozaschitnik-zaderzhannye-na-stoyanke-dalnoboyschikov-zhenschiny-fakticheski-podverglis-pytkam-v-ovd) may keep numbers down.
As often happens at the end of the week, today saw the appearance of several articles summing up what has happened with the Russian long-haul truckers strike so far. Among the best are those posted at svoboda.org/a/28506962.html, svoboda.org/a/28504273.html and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5926BCB87A0BF.
While the appearance of striking drivers near Moscow and union plans to go to court to seek the overturning of the Plato system have attracted more media attention to this action than earlier, the dominant tone of many articles is that the strike is petering out, the victim of Russian government repression and the needs of drivers to earn money for their families.
But strike leaders are more upbeat. Andrey Bazhutin, president of the Carriers Uninon, says that in his view, the strike is only gaining strength because such a labor action doesn’t just involve standing in one place and waving flags. It also means not paying the Plato fees and many drivers and their companies are refusing to do so even now (bfm.ru/news/355398).
He suggested that the current situation is much like the one shown in the Russian movie “DMB” that appeared in 2000. (DMB is army slang for “demobilization.”) One of the actors in the film asks “Do you see a protest?” His friend responds “No.” And the questioner says “Neither do I. But it’s there.”