Russian riot police have detained dozens of people demonstrating against higher import duties on used foreign cars.
Violence erupted as police in the eastern port city of Vladivostok moved in to arrest as many as 100 protesters, including a press cameraman who was bundled unceremoniously into a waiting police vehicle. Several protests took place across Russia against punitive tariffs designed to prop up struggling domestic car producers. The arrests underline official sensitivity to any gatherings linked to growing economic hardship. In Moscow protesters clutched posters deriding the country’s leaders. “Of course nobody will buy (Rusian) Zhiguli and Volga because thy are of very poor quality,” said one demonstrator. “People would rather save money to buy a foreign car and curse the authorities, or, they will give up the idea of buying a car. So it won’t have any economic effect but it will result in rancour, for sure. People will get the impression that the authorities, who drive expensive cars, are mocking them.” Another man said: “I think it’s a test of slavery. If we eat this it means they can treat us like dirt. Yes, there were Soviet cars, I personally had a Zaporozhets and was happy, but that was 30 years ago. Time moves on but the cars stay the same rubbish.” But in the Volga region, several time zones to the West of Vladivostok and home of the Soviet era Lada car, about a hundred people attended a subdued rally supporting the government’s measures. Their banners read, “Yes to the increase – no to the speculators”, and urged people to buy Russian.