(NYTimes) MOSCOW—Hundreds of long-distance truckers blocked a lengthy section of the ring road circling the capital on Friday to protest a new national toll, in the first sign that Russia’s economic woes might be eroding the once-unshakeable support for President Vladimir V. Putin’s government.
The direct object of their ire was Igor Rotenberg, the scion of a billionaire oligarch clan close to Mr. Putin, who owns half of a new, GPS-based system that, when fully operational, will charge truckers fees on all federal highways. […]
“At a time when the pie is shrinking, the clans are trying to keep their portion or even expand it,” said Nikolai Petrov, a professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. The privatized toll system creates a new income source, he noted, but it will cause friction.
The truckers are widely dispersed and hence difficult to control, and their sentiments reflect those of the entire middle class, Mr. Petrov said. “They feel that the government is trying to fix budgetary problems by increasing taxes and taking money out of their pockets,” he said.
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