Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 59

First Deputy Premier Anatoly Chubais traveled to the Kuzbass on March 21 to attend a nationwide congress of coal workers. The miners were among Yeltsin’s most loyal backers in the early 1990s but have since become disenchanted by threatened pit closures and months-long wage delays. Chubais’ journey did not start out well: first he had to listen to the complaints of the pilots of the government jet, who have not been paid for three months. (RTR, March 21) His meeting with miners’ leaders was, however, surprisingly cordial. Chubais had responsibility for the mining industry when he was last in government and, following his sacking in January 1996, miners’ leaders issued a statement describing him as the only government official who had studied their concerns and tried to keep his word. (Itar-Tass, March 21) Chubais agreed over the weekend to the miners’ request that he should resume his 1995 post as chair of the interdepartmental commission on the mining industry. (RTR, March 21) The main problems that Chubais will have to tackle is that a large part of the industry is loss-making and that pits have been surviving only on massive state subsidies.

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