Truckers protest punishing road tax amid Russia's economic crisis
Truck drivers protesting outside Moscow say a new road tax has made it even harder to earn a living
A group of Russian long-distance truckers fed up with a road tax the government imposed in already tough economic times have been staging a protest outside Moscow since December. Their original intention was to tie up traffic in the capital, but authorities blocked that move, and they've had to content themselves with parking their rigs near an Ikea lot on the city's outskirts.
CBC's Susan Ormiston and Corinne Seminoff met up with some of the disgruntled drivers and heard about the hardships they're facing and the frustration they feel with the lack of help they're getting from the government of Vladimir Putin.
"All I can say is that I wish there were better times for us ahead in this country — for the children. I have two of my own. That's why I'm here with the guys.
"I've had my freight truck for five years. It's been getting harder and harder, and I've been getting paid less and less, and now to have this tax, well, this is going to totally destroy me."
"For the outside, [Putin] is great for many … he's sticking his nose into everything — Syria, Turkey — so good, so powerful, but in his own country, he can't even talk to the people.
"I have two kids and a wife, and now she is out of work. This is pretty typical here. I'm the only one working. I can't even afford a sick day."
"I hope that my kids live in a normal country with a just government. What they are doing to us and calling it democracy, well, it's some kind of feudal structure … there are these kings and knights, and they think they can just help themselves to the destinies of millions of people. I do not agree with this.
"There is deep-rooted corruption in this country, and there's no punishment."
"I never had any respect for him [Putin]. I knew he was taking the country down a road to destruction. Even when he first came to power, he did nothing. He didn't even have a plan to clean the garbage."
"This [economic crisis] is affecting every Russian. It will impact everyone. They will make us pay [the road tax], and then we have to go into the shops and pay even more on top of that.
"Then there's the pensioners. Their pension is miserly. How they will live is beyond me."