Staunton, May 12 – Parliamentarians of the North Caucasus Republic of Daghestan, which has been the center of the long-haul truckers strike, plan to call on the Russian Duma to repeal the Plato fee system that the drivers oppose, according to prime minister Abdusamad Gamidov (kavkaz.versia.ru/vlasti-dagestana-poobeshhali-posodejstvovat-otmene-platona).
Gamidov’s words are likely intended to reduce the pressure the truckers have put on Makhachkala and to show Moscow that the republic authorities are trying to find a way to end the strike which has paralyzed much of the long-haul traffic in the southern portions of the Russian Federation.
And they do not mean by themselves that the Russian Duma in Moscow will agree to this step. Nonetheless, this represents a significant victory for the long-haul drivers because the republic government will find it very difficult to back down from its promise regardless of what the central Russian government does.
Indeed, it could set the stage for a situation in which Daghestani officials would simply ignore Moscow’s demands to collect the Plato fees lest they provoke an even larger labor action by the drivers, an outcome that would certainly inspire long haul truckers in other parts of the country to adopt the same strategy.
The Daghestani prime minister also promised to improve the operation of the republic’s only weigh station and to raise the issue of taxes on gasoline in Moscow, two of the truckers’ other demands. In short, Makhachkala which for so long had refused even to meet with the drivers has now agreed to be their spokesman and representative in the Russian capital.
Meanwhile, there have been two other reports about the truckers strike today that deserve broader attention. According to the first, Kabardino-Balkarskaya Pravda reports federal officials have issued more than 500 fines to truckers for failing to sign up with the Plato system (http://kbr.news-r.ru/news/society/102976/).
And according to the second, which provides additional details on the First Congress of Yakutsk Long-Haul Truckers that took place earlier, that meeting featured heated protests by the 300 delegates about the Plato system despite earlier reports officials had managed to refocus the session on other issues (transler.ru/news/cargo/perviy_sezd_yakutskih_dalnoboyschikov.html).
But perhaps the most fateful statement at the meeting came from one long-haul trucker who said that the authorities had best address the drivers’ objections to the Plato system and other regulations or they will face the likelihood that many northern villages and even cities will not get the food supplies in they will need to survive next winter.