21 Nov 2018 18:40

Ukrainian motorists with European number plates call off protest, unblock roads

KYIV. Nov 21 (Interfax) - The civic organization AvtoEvroSila has decided to end the first stage of protests on highways and start preparing for the next rally to demand a presidential veto.

"After the failed Rada vote the rally in the previous format is no longer relevant, so the AvtoEvroSila community has decided to end the first stage of the campaign and proceed to preparations for the next rally, 'We demand president's veto!'" the organization said on Facebook on Wednesday.

Its date will be announced after Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy signs the relevant bills, the post said.

All roads which were blocked during the nationwide protests under the "For affordable customs clearance" slogan are now open to traffic, the protestors acted within the law, having blocked the roads only temporarily, the post said.

Claims by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov that the roads had to be unblocked forcibly are a media provocation, the activists said.

For its part, the Ukrainian State Agency of Automobile Roads (Ukravtodor) said there was no congestion on the roads blocked by protesting motorists.

"There is no information about a concentration of freight or passenger transport vehicles on the roads blocked by protestors. The protestors have let the road traffic through," the agency's spokesperson told Interfax.

AvtoEvroSila launched the nationwide campaign of civil disobedience on November 20 to demand a repeal of the Tax Code changes lowering the excise tax on light vehicle, because they scrapped the age coefficient in the calculation of the tax.

On November 20 the protesting owners of vehicles with European number plates blocked a number of national highways in 16 regions.

On November 21 national police announced intentions to unblock traffic on the roads occupied by the protestors.

Police will act within the law but, "in the event of disobedience, [will respond] harshly," Avakov said.