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    Police block unsanctioned auto protest in Russia's Far East

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    Police dispersed over a hundred of protesters on Sunday during an unauthorized protest in the Russian Far East against the government's decision to raise import duties on used foreign cars.

    VLADIVOSTOK, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Police dispersed over a hundred of protesters on Sunday during an unauthorized protest in the Russian Far East against the government's decision to raise import duties on used foreign cars.

    The Russian government passed a resolution on December 10 to raise import duties on foreign cars and trucks from January 12, 2009 amid the ongoing global financial crisis to protect domestic auto producers and foreign companies assembling vehicles in Russia.

    The government's decision will see actual import duties rise 50% on second-hand foreign cars and 100% on used foreign trucks. The decision has sparked a wave of protests in the Primorye Region in the Russian Far East where over 90% of vehicles are used Japanese cars.

    The police urged demonstrators to go home as they gathered on the city's central square. After protesters refused to leave the square, the police broke up the rally, detaining several protesters who tried to put up resistance.

    Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged on Friday that natural monopolies and state-run companies buy only Russian-made cars, and recommended private companies to do likewise.

    "I'd like to say straight off that budget money, the funds of natural monopolies and, I hope, the largest private companies should be spent on buying domestically produced products," Putin said.

    "Now that our producers are forced to slash production, I think it is absolutely unacceptable to spend money on acquiring foreign cars," he said, specifying that Russian-made cars included foreign cars assembled in Russia.

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