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Nov 15, 2016

TRUCKERS' PROTEST * Russia - Tolls to be doubles in 2017

* Moscow - Truckers are resuming a rare display of mass discontentment in Russia


--- Long-distance truck drivers across Russia have begun a new series of protests against a national highway toll system that was implemented last year... The drivers, who snarled traffic across the country last winter, began protesting in numerous cities on November 11 to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the tolls... The fees are set to be doubled in February 2017 after a compromise reached by protesters and the government in January expires. Under the system, the revenues raised -- estimated at $700 million per year -- are supposed to be used for infrastructure maintenance and development... According to protest organizers, demonstrations were held in at least a dozen cities across Russia, with drivers crowding major thoroughfares by driving at slow speeds in all lanes and then assembling for rallies... In the Moscow suburb of Khimki, police broke up the rally before it got under way and detained about 15 activists, as well as several journalists... Surkhai Alimirzayev, who owns a trucking company in the North Caucasus republic of Daghestan, told RFE/RL that the tolls have crippled his business and that of many other drivers... "Many people are trying to sell their trucks," he said. "I have also sold half of my vehicles and plan to sell another five in the near future. Fuel is expensive. Spare parts are expensive. And the roads haven't gotten any better...
 (Photo from Reuters, by Maxim Shemetov - Drivers stand in front of their trucks, as they take part in a protest against a new fee, at a parking lot in the Moscow region, Russia, December 8, 2015. As of last month, the state has started charging a fee for every kilometre that trucks over 12 tonnes in weight drive over Russian roads)  --  Moscow, Russia - By Robert Coalson, Radio Free Europe/ Business Insider - Nov. 11, 2016

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