Dagestan: Rallying truckers encircled by National Guard of Russian Federation
The National Guard and Special Purpose Mobility Unit encircled truckers rallying in the Town of Manas. The truckers are protesting against the Platon System introduction. Up to 200 MIA of the Russian Federation employees have gathered there, according to different reports.
The National Guard encircled a truckers’ parking lot in Manas, according to protester and trucker Abdula Abdulaev as quoted by RBC.
“The National Guard is 50 meters away from us. They are in full combat gear and armed. There are about 100 of them, plus 5 big cars and more than 10 cars of the Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation,” he said. 600 protesters have been trying to go drive the City of Makhachkala for several days, according to Abdulaev. However, the road has been blocked.
In a conversation with RBC, a spokesperson for the Office of Public Affairs of the Main Department of the MIA in Dagestan confirmed the National Guard has been sent there. The MIA and National Guard representatives are maintaining order at the parking lot, he said.
“It is not a rally exactly. People are standing there. It is a special parking lot for heavy trucks. The MIA employees have been sent there to prevent any possible disorderly conduct. There are 66 employees of the Department of the MIA in Dagestan and 20 employees of the MIA of the Russian Federation. They are not blocking the road,” the spokesperson said.
The National Guard did in fact spend the whole Friday of March 31 at the parking lot in Manas, according to the National Guard Office of Public Affairs as quoted by RBC. However, the Office was not able to specify the exact number of National Guard employees sent to Manas.
“They (the Nation Guard employees) are not doing anything. They are just on stand-by. They are stationed on the roadside so local residents can move freely. Yes, they are armed in case there is a need to put down unauthorized activities,” a duty spokesperson of the Office said.
People in uniform initiated talks, as earlier reported by Russian Federation Transport Operators’ Union member Mikhail Kurbatov in an interview to the Novaya Gazeta Newspaper. “We were promised MPs are to come here tomorrow. We will talk to them. We are sure to remain here until tomorrow,” the activist said.
Leaders of the truckers’ protest movement promised the government up to 10 000 people will participate in rallies. 2 days before that, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev met with the rallying truckers. He supported some of their suggestions. For example, Platon fee will be increased only 25% instead of 50%.
A fee for entering federal highways for vehicles weighing more than 12 tons was introduced in Russia on November 5, 2015. The fee is levied through the Platon System. It led to a nationwide outcry from truckers. The government decreased the fee rate and the State Duma of the Russian Federation deceased non-payment penalties 90 times as a result. However, truckers were not satisfied.