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Russians Voice Support as Truckers' Protest Jams Road

Russian Truckers Jam Roads in Moscow Traffic Protest
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A massive traffic jam formed Friday on Moscow's Ring Road after police blocked a column of truckers driving at low speed to protest a doubling of road tolls, as well as high fines for not paying.

Normally loyal to authorities, drivers now worry about making a living. Some blame the increased rates on corrupt elites connected to the Kremlin.

"It's a very important sign that more and more social groups in Russian society became frustrated with the current situation and policies of Vladimir Putin's government,” said Vladimir Milov, head of the Democratic Choice party. “So, that is a remarkable turnaround. You see many, many people becoming more and more affected, those who previously didn't really pay attention."

Russians in the capital voiced support for the truckers.

"I think they're acting bravely,” said student Arseny Krutov. “Absolutely everyone can agree on this. However, regular citizens can suffer, too, from traffic jams. There are already many in Moscow."

Yuri Bogomolov, an art critic, also backed the protesting drivers.

"It's not only a matter of the government's honor but it's selfishness as well,” he said, “to fill the holes in the budget stemming from the two wars in Ukraine and Syria. They're being filled at the expense of common people."

Pensioner Marina Oleshko agreed.

"I support the truck drivers,” she said, “because I think it's too expensive for them."

Russian truckers have disrupted federal motorways for weeks, demanding the fares be reduced. But progress may be a long way off.

“… You have to turn this big, rusty wheel to convert this to a meaningful political process,” Milov said. “I think, so far, we are kind of far from that."

But supporters hope the stand that truckers are taking — Russia's largest industrial action in years — will help people focus on the country’s systemic problems of political decision-making and accountability.

Mark Grinberg contributed to this report.

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