Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Russian car lovers protest tariffs on used foreign cars

AFP , VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA

Hundreds of car lovers rallied yesterday in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok in ongoing protests against the government’s decision to raise tariffs on used foreign cars.

Up to 1,000 people converged on Vladivostok’s central square, brandishing banners against tariffs and high fuel prices and with slogans like “Government to resign” and “Putin, fight oligarchs, not people.”

Unlike earlier protests, the rally lacked an official organizer, its address and demands being spread by Internet, telephone messages and word of mouth.

“We are fighting not because we want a new car, but because there is no work here except selling used cars. Thousands will go broke and that is people between 40 and 60 years of age. They’re too old to learn another job,” said one of the protesters, Nikolai.

“The region is underdeveloped, people flee because there are no jobs — and instead of creating jobs and enterprises, the government hands us charity-like loans to buy Russian cars,” said another protester, Galina.

“Cutting down this business, this infrastructure, is to create a domino effect. Everything will go down and it will end up in crime and alcoholism,” said Vyacheslav Lysakov, the head of the car-lovers’ group Freedom of Choice.

“Every other family is directly or indirectly involved in the car business,” he said.

Police seized 22 protesters, citing violations of the law on demonstrating, police spokeswoman Irina Syrova was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

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