Акция дальнобойщиков / The Truck Drivers Protest

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media - truck drivers outside Moscow

Audio content: A truck driver discussing his discontent with the new tax system.
Visual content: Two Russian truck drivers.

Video at tvrain.ru
4 December 2015

In November 2015 the Russian government instituted a new tax on truck drivers, who are popularly known as “дальнобойщики” (“даль” means “distance” and “бой” means “fight” or “battle.”) Under this system, known as “Платон” / “Platon,” drivers will pay 1.5 rubles per kilometer driven, with the amount rising to 3 rubles per kilometer in March 2016. Drivers are required to install a special mechanism in their trucks to track accrued tax. The money collected is supposed to be used to repair the damage that large trucks inflict on Russian roads. A private company partially owned by Игорь Ротенберг / Igor Rotenberg has been given a concession to operate the Platon system. Igor is the son of Arkady Rotenberg, a billionaire Russian businessman and sports trainer who made his fortune supplying equipment to oil and gas companies. This circumstance has given rise to the suspicion that “Platon” will just end up enriching the elite at the expense of working people. Truck drivers across Russia have been demonstrating against “Platon” since November, organizing protest gatherings, strikes and traffic blockages. The government so far has not backed down from its plans, but the fine for noncompliance was reduced from about 500,000 to 5,000 rubles. This move did not satisfy the truck drivers. A highlight of their protest activity was to be a blockage of the МКАД, the major ring road around the outskirts of Moscow, in the early days of December. There are conflicting reports about the degree to which the drivers actually managed to disrupt traffic. In fact the truck drivers’ unrest has been barely mentioned on the federal television channels. The above video, from the opposition channel TV Rain, was filmed in the hours before the planned action; it features a particularly committed member of the protest movement who explains his distrust of the Platon system and increasingly suggests that frustrated people might be ready to act out against a whole range of problems in Russian society. (It should be noted, however, that opinion polls indicate that a large majority of Russians continue to support the current Russian leadership.) The speaker uses a few folksy, expressive phrases, explain in asterisked notes below.

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Журналист: Поговорим с некоторыми участниками акции. Здравствуйте, коллеги. Как у вас настроение? Что вы собираетесь в ближайшее время делать?

Дальнобойщик: Ну, я считаю, что… и надеюсь, что те люди, которые приехали сюда со всех… из многих регионов–на сегодняшний момент на площадке из Питера находятся, с Вологды [“из Вологды” would be standard; “с” is a common nonstandard usage], с Иванова, с Нижнего Новгорода.

Журалист: А вы сами-то откуда?

Дальнобойщик: Из Иванова. Хочется и надеется, что акция пройдёт без эксцессов. В принципе, водители высказываются только за то, за отмену Платона, не выставляют никаких политических своих как бы требований. Но, лично моё мнение–я считаю, что если человек уже встал защитить своё достоинство, он уже достоин уважения. А человек, который вне политики, как многие считают, что нам политические требования [нельзя?]–это рабская психология. И, вот, надеюсь, что люди поймут это, и в конце концов будут требовать не только запрета этого Платона, который только вносит деструктивную составляющую в общество, дестабилизацию этого общества. И, как бы сказать, его действие к положительным результатам не принесёт [приведёт would be expected here]. То, что нам говорят, что эти деньги пойдут на устройство дорог, по которым мы ездим, что они будут компенсировать те моменты, которые дальнобойщики типа разрушают–всё это ложь, всё это от лукавого. Потому что этот фонд, на сегодняшний момент, как бы он не контролировался, частный. Да, на какой-то момент акции, на какой-то момент контроля, может быть и действительно деньги будут уходить на производство работ по дорогам. Но я предполагаю, что через полгода, когда утихнет вся эта шумиха, деньги будут уходить на семейство Ротенбергов, ихних друзей, надпил, распил. Если “Восточный” могли кинут из-за [?расцен?] на миллиарды, где контроль вело государство, в принципе, это заказ правительство было, то здесь, когда отсутствие законодательной базы, когда у нас закон как дышло, что любого из нас, любого, можно, по надуманным предлогам посадить, оболгать, при этом не дав возможности правильно защититься–то и этот Платон на сегодняшний момент будут способствовать составляющей коррупции среди чиновничества.

Journalist: We’ll talk to a few participants in the protest. Hello, colleagues. How is your mood? What are you planning to do next [“in the nearest time”]?

Truck Driver: Well, I think that… and I hope that those people who have come here from many regions–at the present moment on this square there are people from Petersburg, from Vologda, from Ivanovo, from Nizhny Novgorod.

Journalist: And you yourself are from where?

Truck Driver: From Ivanovo. I would like and I hope that the action proceeds without any excesses. Basically, the drivers are only speaking out for the abolition of Platon, are not putting forth any of their own political type demands. But, my personal opinion… I think that if a person has taken a stand to defend his dignity, then he is already worthy of respect. And a person who claims to be outside of politics, like many people think that we shouldn’t be making political demands [the thought is not quite finished] –that is a slave psychology. And now I hope that people understand this and will ultimately demand not just the abolition of Platon, which only brings a destructive element into society, brings about the destabilization of society. And, how should I say it, its [Platon’s] operation will not lead to positive results. This thing that people are saying to us, that this money will go to service the roads we drive on, that it will compensate for the instances where truck drivers supposedly wreck things–all of that is a lie, all of that is from the devil. Because this fund, at the present moment, no matter how much it is monitored, is private. Yes, in some instance of its operation, in some instance of the monitoring, maybe money really will go out to carry out some work on the roads. But I assume that in half a year, when all this ruckus has quieted down, the money will go out to the Rotenberg family, to their friends, to “sawing apart” [a slang term for the way many people try to extract their share of personal profit from a corrupt deal]. If “Vostochnyi” (the new Russian space launch facility being built in the Far East) could be robbed [unclear] to the tune of billions, when the government was monitoring it–basically, that was an order from the government–then here, where there it a lack of any lawful foundation, when the law can be twisted however you like*, when any one of us, any one, can be put in jail for made-up reasons, can be slandered, and what is more without having been given the possibility of decently defending oneself–then this Platon, at the present moment, will facilitate an element of corruption amid the bureaucracy.

*Here the speaker is referencing the Russian saying “Закон — что дышло: куда повернёшь — туда и вышло.” / “The law is like a wagon shaft–wherever you turn it, that’s where it heads. The saying cynically suggests that the law can be twisted to mean anything.

[The man moves on to broader political concerns: He declares that the government, if it needs money, should obtain it from other sources, e.g. by taking the property of officials who have been caught in corruption scandals. He also doesn’t understand why Russia needed to join the World Trade Organization, suggests that Rotenberg invest his own money in a road project, and opines that Russia’s involvement in Syria is a bad idea. Then the video crew says their time is limited and tries to cut him off–but before leaving (and as his friend laughs at him in the background) the man comes out with the memorable lines that supplied the headline for the entire clip:]


Дальнобойщик: Этот бардак… Народ всё равно, рано или поздно, сколько не дави, всё равно возникнет момент критической силы, когда лопнет терпение, и тогда мало не покажется всем.* Пока наши люди очень терпеливы.

Журналист: Спасибо большое. Это было дальнобойщики, которые стоят на парковке возле МЕГА-Химки. Мы будем держать вас в курсе последних событий. Конечно же сообщим, когда акция дальнобойщиков начнётся.

Truck Driver: This mess… The people, all the same, sooner or later, no matter how much one represses them, all the same there will arise a moment of critical force, when patience will break, and then no one will get off easy. For now our people are very patient.

Journalist: Thank you very much. That was the truck drivers who are stationed on the parking lot around the Mega [a shopping center] in Khimki. We will keep you up to date with the latest events. Of course we will announce when the truck drivers’ protest action begins.

*”Мало не покажется кому”: This is a folksy, mildly threatening saying. Literally: “It won’t seem little/mild [to someone].”

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