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    Russian motorists in Far East protest new rules, taxes

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    Russian motorists protesting in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Saturday vowed to continue their actions unless the government eases plans to make it harder to import Japanese used cars.

    VLADIVOSTOK, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian motorists protesting in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Saturday vowed to continue their actions unless the government eases plans to make it harder to import Japanese used cars.

    The Federation of Russian Car Owners held the demonstration on the eve of the Day of the Motorist, marked on the last Sunday in October, to protest against increased customs duties, a doubling of the transport tax, the adoption of new technical regulations and rising fuel prices.

    Vladivostok has been a center of opposition to a higher 30% tax on imported vehicles. Approximately 80% of cars in Russia's Far East are second-hand imports from Japan and South Korea, and the tax, introduced last year to support domestic car production and extended earlier this month, has hit consumers there particularly hard.

    The organizers handed out leaflets on the new technical regulations and collected signatures for a petition.

    The owners' federation is preparing to submit a lawsuit to Russia's Constitutional Court appealing legislation raising tariffs and the introduction of new technical regulations, which effectively prohibits right-hand-drive vehicles, spokeswoman Anastasia Zagoruiko said.

    Cars built for the Japanese market are right-hand-drive, and used cars from Japan have long been popular in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that drive on the left.

    According to Russian customs figures, imports of used cars in Russia's Far East are down almost 90%. For the first nine months of 2009, 41,787 cars were imported, compared with 351,960 vehicles in the same period last year.

     

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