Striking truckers warn Moscow: ‘Shed our blood and there’ll be a revolution’

Russian long-haul truckers on strike (Image: znak.com)

Image: znak.com 

2017/04/21 - 10:11 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Even as Moscow continues to ignore or downplay the size of the long-haul truckers’ strike – with Dmitry Medvedev absurdly claiming that only 490 trucks are taking part – and some regional officials moving against the strikers, the truckers have delivered a stark message to Moscow: “As soon as the first blood starts flowing, a revolution will begin.”

Znak journalist Igor Pushkaryev describes his visit to a truckers’ encampment in Sverdlovsk oblast in a 4,000-word article that suggests the truckers are standing firm, gaining popular support and attracting more truckers to their cause, becoming increasingly radical.

The truckers in the camp he visited, Pushkaryev says, are increasingly well-organized, they receive food from supporters and prepare it for truckers who have parked their vehicles, and they have organized a system of around-the-clock guards in order to prevent the police or other force structures from staging a provocation, something many expect and fear.

One interesting detail that the journalist reports is that the Zello Internet system, which drivers use in scheduling their loads and which Moscow said it was blocking, continues to function entirely normally. One driver said that “we also thought they had prohibited it but for now everything is working normally.”

From the Zello network, the Sverdlovsk group learned that 300 truckers from Udmurtia and 80 from Oryol oblast joined the strike the day before the journalist arrived. They also learned that truckers in Chita in the Transbaikal and a major transshipment point for trade between Russia and China have now struck as well.

Reportedly, the China authorities are threatening to bring in Chinese drivers to replace the Russian strikers. If true and if that happens, it could touch off an explosion.

So far, the Sverdlovsk authorities have not tried to intervene to stop the strike or to prevent the strikers from seeking to get others to join their ranks, the Znak journalist says; but they are working to intimidate people by photographing the trucks parked in the encampment and taking down the license plate numbers.

Russian police taking down the license plate numbers of striking drivers (Image: znak.ru)

Russian police taking down the license plate numbers of striking drivers (Image: znak.ru)

On the one hand, Pushkaryev says, several drivers said they wanted to do everything possible “not to be recruited into politics.” These drivers call PARNAS party activists who have been visiting them “’sectarians,’” a term that in Russian carries far more negative connotations than it does in English.

But on the other hand, he continues, “the majority of those at this camp completely consciously support Navalny and those issues which the opposition figure raises.” The way the authorities have treated the elderly and children at marches Navalny has organized has driven many drivers to see him as an attractive, even admirable leader.

Most of the drivers are hostile not only to the government in general, something true of many Russians, but also to Vladimir Putin personally. “Putin in 2015 promised us to do away with the transportation tax. Did he do that? No! Who can believe him now?” was the way one striking driver put it.

The truckers say that they will “stand to the end because there is no sense to do anything else.” They are angry that the authorities won’t talk to them. And some of them are prepared for a more violent outcome: “Speaking honestly,” one driver said, “I am ready for a real revolution, one based on force.”

And in what is clearly a warning to any of the powers that be who may be thinking about dispersing the truckers by force, he continued, “as soon as the first blood is shed, a real revolution will begin.”


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dirk Smith

    The beginning of the end of Putin’s coup of ruSSia.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      I wouldn’t go so far, as continuation of the strike depends on the support the striking truckers receive from the population at large. This support could evaporate as shops run out of essential food supplies for instance. Bringing in Chinese truckers as strikebreakers will undoubtedly cause a backlash however.

  • Alex George

    Putin should send in troops to suppress the strike, starting in Petrograd. Follow the spirit of Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov, whom he so closely resembles.

    What could possibly go wrong? ;o)

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      I can think of a LOT of things that could go wrong if Pedo Putolini (or one of his underlings) sent in the OMON or even his new personal Leibstandarteski to break up the strike. But the dwarf is stupid enough to do just that as force is the only thing he understands.

  • zorbatheturk

    Empty shelves in RuSSian stores should unleash a wave of Soviet nostalgia for the good old days that Putin is so desperate to return to.

  • Robert

    Slava to the Brave Russian Truckers!!!

    We support you Brave Russian Truckers!!! Carry On!!!

    Power to the People!!!

  • zorbatheturk

    Breaker breaker Freightshaker this is K-whopper we got wall to wall bears ahead. Looks like that slimy piece of sh it Putin has called in the National Guard.
    That’s a big 10-4, bubba. We gotta deal with that cotton picking KGB rat.
    Copy that. Any ideas?
    Let’s just power up and run the little prik over.
    Affirmative! We’ll turn that Krumlin assclown into road pizza.
    Roger!