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Keep on Trucking

Are Truckers Ushering in a Russian Spring?

A truck driver stands in front of trucks at a parking lot, as he arrives for a protest against a new fee, in the Moscow region, Russia, December 3, 2015. Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

Across Russia, from St. Petersburg in the north to Volgograd in the south, truckers are on strike. They’re angered by a new road tax that they say is rooted in corruption and will bankrupt them. And so, some 200 long-haul drivers have disrupted roads for over two weeks and have vowed to take their motorized protest to Moscow unless the Russian government removes the tax, fires the transport minister, and fines the oligarch Arkady Rotenberg and his son, whose company was selected to collect the new fees.

In the region and beyond, similar movements that were catalyzed by grievances about corruption and involved diverse groups of protesters, including young people, professionals, and blue-collar workers, have toppled other regimes, including that of Viktor Yanukovych in next-door Ukraine. In his increasingly authoritarian rule, Russian President Vladimir Putin has often denounced such revolts, presumably fearing the same fate. Now he must be especially

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