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Cablegate: Larger Protests in Far East Against Increased Auto Tariffs

VZCZCXRO5969
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHDT RUEHFL RUEHHM RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK
RUEHSR RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0135 3500638
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150638Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1056
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1153

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000135

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON RS
SUBJECT: LARGER PROTESTS IN FAR EAST AGAINST INCREASED AUTO TARIFFS

REF: VLADIVOSTOK 130

1. Ten thousand demonstrators took to the streets in Primorye
on December 14 to protest the upcoming increase in used car
import tariffs, blocking main roads in Vladivostok and smaller
cities for up to eight hours. Several thousand cars from
Vladivostok, Ussuriisk and Nakhodka also organized a blockade of
the airport. This is the latest -- and largest -- in a series
of such protests and it attracted considerably more attention
from law enforcement and officials. OMON special police
detained 15 protesters in Vladivostok and 26 near the airport,
and Vladivostok Mayor Igor Pushkaryov and Acting Governor
Aleksandr Kostenko directly appealed to protesters to call off
the blockades.

2. Protesters held banners calling for a boycott of Yedinaya
Rossiya, for PM Vladimir Putin's resignation, and sardonically
pushing for officials to stop being hypocritical and start
driving Russian-made cars themselves. The media, presumably
told by authorities to abstain from covering the event, mostly
stayed away. Some outlets that did file reports placed the
number of participants at around 200.

3. The following day, protest organizers passed a written
appeal to newly-elected Primorye Senator Vyacheslav Fetisov for
delivery to Prime Minister Putin regarding the customs fee
increases. Primorye deputies themselves also appealed to the
federal government to postpone the increase.

4. The issue has shown that residents of Primorye are certainly
capable of organizing when pressed by an issue they consider
important, and that they can quickly stage effective
demonstrations when needed. Despite the inconvenience caused by
the demonstration, public opinion is heavily in favor of the
protesters. Participants reported that even the militia men
working that day to contain the crowds -- who more than likely
own or plan to buy imported used Japanese cars -- expressed
unofficial support for the protesters. One positive side effect
of the demonstration was that traffic police reported half as
many traffic accidents than usual that day.

ARMBRUSTER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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