Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anti-protectionist street protests in the Russian Far East

Not something you see every day – crowds clamoring for free trade. Via Cathy Young, the Moscow Times reports that inhabitants of Russia's far eastern territory have taken to the streets to protest a new tax that I presume would fall mostly on cheap used Asian cars imported via China (in Eastern Europe and its colonies in the far east, used cars are a big deal).

In a rare example of grassroots political power, angry protests by drivers prompted lawmakers in the far eastern Primorye region on Monday to ask the country's two leaders to delay raising import duties on foreign cars. [...]

Thousands of drivers took to the streets in several far eastern cities and towns Sunday to protest the tariffs, blocking traffic, clashing with police, openly insulting Putin and Medvedev and even calling on Putin to resign.

Putin's decree would increase the prices for imported cars by between 10 and 20 percent, a move the government has defended as a way of protecting domestic auto makers during the growing financial crisis.

The Primorye region's representative in the Federation Council, hockey legend Vyacheslav Fetisov, met with regional car dealers in Vladivostok on Monday and promised to pass on their request to the government to call off the tariffs, which they say would ravage their business.

Then again, I don't know if clamoring for reduced tariffs on cars really counts as libertarian activism when you think about it...

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