Author: Vasily Kolotilov

TRUCK PROTESTS SIGNAL NEW KIND OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM. (By Vasily Kolotilov. The Moscow Times, Dec. 3, 2015, p. 4. Condensed text:) . . . Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg - President Vladimir Putin's long-time judo sparring partner and close ally - and his son Igor are currently the most reviled authority figures in trucking circles. Igor Rotenberg owns 50% of Platon, the company responsible for collecting a newly introduced levy for driving trucks weighing more than 12 [metric] tons on federal highways - according to Russia's legal entities registry.

Anatoly Chubais, the architect of privatization in the early '90s, had previously borne the title of "national allergen" for decades, but the palm must now be passed to the Rotenbergs [Arkady and his son, Igor - Trans.].

Platon is the collection system launched on Nov. 15, with truckers having to pay a levy for every kilometer they travel. Every heavy-vehicle owner has to register with the system and file his itinerary in advance online, or equip the truck with a mobile tracker. Implementation of the system kicked off the largest social protest wave in years.

The protests began in mid-November, and were particularly active in southern Russia and the Siberian and Volga regions. The large presence of individual entrepreneurs in these regions meant that the levy greatly impacted their business structure, regional programs director at the Independent Social Policy Institute Natalya Zubarevich told The Moscow Times.

Authorities have attempted to tamp down protest fervor - interfering with the protest movement. . . .

Police are focused on keeping the protesting truckers away from the capital and have been successful thus far - a planned demonstration in Moscow was canceled.

But the protest lives on. "At the moment it's a network without a center. Thus, it is hard for the government to maintain, because they don't have a center to strike," says ex-deputy labor minister Pavel Kudyukin, ...

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