Truckers protest punishing road tax amid Russia's economic crisis

A group of Russian long-distance truck drivers fed up with a road tax the government imposed in already tough economic times have been staging a protest outside Moscow since December. CBC's Susan Ormiston and Corinne Seminoff met up with 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.

Truck drivers protesting outside Moscow say a new road tax has made it even harder to earn a living

Anton Zagainov is one of several truck drivers who have parked their rigs on the outskirts of Moscow in protest against a new road tax they say will make it even harder for them to earn a living and support their families in an already dire economic climate. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

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.

Alexei Borisov 

Alexei Borisov is from Ryazan, about 200 kilometres southeast of Moscow. Many of the drivers have spent weeks hundreds of kilometres away from home while waiting out the protest. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Hometown: Ryazan

"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."

Artiom Polikarpov

Artiom Polikarpov and his fellow truckers have been hit by a road tax increase at the same time as their earnings have decreased because of the deteriorating economy. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Hometown: Ryazan

"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."

Alexei Rozhkov

Alexei Rozhkov, who lives more than 300 kilomtres northeast of Moscow in Kostroma, says he feels like he's living in a feudal system where he doesn't control his destiny. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Hometown: Kostroma

"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."

Yevgeny Staritsin

Yevgeny Staritsin is from the industrial centre of Vologda, about 460 kilometres north of the capital. He hopes the protests will get the government's attention and improve the drivers' standard of living. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Hometown: Vologda

"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."

Sergei Kazhimakin

Sergei Kazhimakin says the road tax, which amounts to about two cents per kilometre, will cut into drivers' income just as the cost of living is rising. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Hometown: Vologda

"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."

Russia's bleak economy

7 years ago
Duration 2:33
Protests in Russia are growing as the ruble weakens and the Kremlin is forced to make painful budget cuts