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(en) Russia: Taxi driver strike in Omsk and following repression against anarcho-syndicalists

Date Wed, 8 Mar 2006 14:19:12 +0100 (CET)


25th of February "Yamschik" ("coach-driver"), a syndicate of taxi drivers
organized a protest meeting in Omsk. (Exactly speaking, it is a union of
drivers of "Marshrutnoe taksi", that is private minibuses, a popular means
of public transport all around developing world). "Yamschik" was founded
last autumn, it is member of syndicalist Omsk Confederation of Labour
(local section of Siberian Confederation of Labour), and has some 100
members.
During last years, municipally owned transport was in a complete disarray
in Omsk, and private mini-buses became lifeline of the city. Tariffs of
minibuses were only 1-2 roubles (3-6 cents) more expensive that those of
the municipally owned public transport, sometimes even cheaper.
In summer of 2005, city administration made a deal with owner of "Russian
Aluminum" Deripask, who brought 200 new buses to Omsk - Deripask was
promised a monopoly of public transport after transitional period of 5
years. First of February city of Omsk made a new auction of licenses to
public transport, and only biggest actors of the market were given
licenses. All of those owning just one mini-bus were outlawed. Some 4000
drivers were left without work.

First drivers kept on driving without licenses, but soon Gosavtoinspection
began sanctioning them. Since 1st of February, public transport in Omsk
has been in a chaos - city has the biggest land area in Siberia, it
stretches some 70 kilometers by bank of river Irtysh and 200 new buses
were definitely not enough. Everybody was suffering from the situation,
thus more than 1000 people came to meeting of "Yamshik", not only taxi
drivers. City powers were scared well before the meeting, and already 23rd
of February it sent cops to homes of members of Yamschik and Omsk
Confederation of Labour in order to "warn" them. But even some of the cops
were so pissed because of the situation that instead of threatening they
showed solidarity to
syndicalists...

Meeting in city Duma began 10 AM and lasted one hour. After meeting,
people did not dispersed and suddenly somebody came up with an idea to pay
a visit to mayor's office. What followed was a spontaneous march, there
were some confrontations with police on the way, but they could not stop
it. Road next to mayor's office was blockaded, and city transport
disturbed during two hours. Police arrested Valentin Kuznetsov from
Yamschik and 4 other people.
>From mayor's office, people marched to block bridge over river Irtysh, at
this point size of spontaneous action had grown to more than 2000.
Eventually crowd intermingled with another meeting against reform of
municipal services, which began at noon.

Some repressions followed, 2nd of March Yelena Starostina from Omsk
Confederation of Labour was arrested by plain clothes officers, when she
was arriving to court hearing, where some participators of action of 25th
of February were facing misdemeanor charges and to which she was summoned
as a witness. She was taken to central police station, interrogated and
charged of co-organisation of the street blockade. Some 10 persons
gathered to a spontaneous solidarity picket, and after two hours she was
released.


According to information from Vyacheslav Danilov of Siberian Confederation
of Labour, and site http://www.skt.org.ru


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