Azerbaijani truck drivers have been subject to attacks by Russian truckdrivers in Dagestan after crossing over into Russian territory at the Yarag-Kazmalyar – Samur crossing point.
Unknown individuals have been throwing stones, deflating wheels and, at times, physically attacking drivers attempting to cross into Dagestan.
Azerbaijani truck driver Mehman Mehdiyev told
“On March 30, I crossed the border, obtained customs clearance for the cargo and left in a convoy of 20 trucks. It was 15:30. By the time we reached Makhachkala, it was already dark. Halfway to Kalmykia, a Kamaz truck stopped and started throwing stones at us – one broke through the windshield and hit my head. I fainted and fell into the ditch. When I opened my eyes, I was already in the ambulance. I was taken to the central hospital in Makhachkala. I had received a concussion”.
, more than 30 trucks have been damaged in the past week or so in this fashion.
The exact number of victims is unknown. As a result of the attacks, which began as early as March 26, 100 trucks have been stranded at the Russian-Azerbaijani border.
The reason behind the attacks is a strike initiated by Russian drivers against a road tax introduced in 2015 called platon, which obliges drivers of trucks weighing more than 12 tons to pay an additional tax per kilometer.
Moreover, the Russian government doubled trucking fees from 1.53 rubles ($0.03) to 3.06 rubles ($0.06) per kilometer, which will come into effect on April 15.
Although the Russian government has agreed to reduce the price hike, protests against the tax continue.
Azerbaijani drivers have been targeted for not joining in the protests against the new taxes.
Officer of the Association of International Road Carriers in Baku Ali Iskenderov told Meydan TV that “Russian drivers have tried to persuade Azerbaijani truckers to join the rally, warning them of the ‘Platon’ system. However, Azerbaijani drivers do not want to join the strikers. If truckers do not deliver perishable cargo in the terms agreed upon in the documents, they will be fined”.
According to Iskenderov, if law enforcement agencies of Russia do not promptly act against the striking truckers, the problematic situation on the Russian-Azerbaijani border could lead to a more serious conflict between the two countries.
Azerbaijani drivers say they lose around $200 a day in fuel in order to keep their produce from perishing.
As of April 6,
reported that Russian truck drivers intent to continue their strike.