Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 176

Workers from more than 30 defense plants across Russia began picketing government buildings in Moscow yesterday to draw attention to the dire financial straits faced by the country’s military-industrial complex. The protest is scheduled to last for five days and there are similar actions planned in at least 15 other cities throughout the country. An official of the defense workers’ trade union association said that the demonstrators are demanding back pay of more than 2.5 trillion rubles.

In addition to their pay, the workers want the government to be more supportive of the defense industry. The leader of the Moscow protesters, Vladimir Pilipchuk, charged that the government intends to provide the industry with less than one-third of the funds it really needs to function normally. He noted that, although it is short of modern tanks, the Defense Ministry has not purchased a single unit for the past 3 years from the country’s main tank production facility in Nizhny Tagil. (Itar-Tass, RIA Novosti, September 22)

The defense workers are likely to get even more militant in the coming months as there is little chance the government will take more than palliative measures to help the industry. Top military figures have repeatedly indicated that they will concentrate on producing only prototypes of new weapons for several years and will have to wait until roughly the year 2005 for any major rearmament programs. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced yesterday that the government intends to place 80 percent of the 1998 defense order with plants even before the budget is passed, but this step will still fall far short of the workers demands.

Landsbergis Dissatisfied with Performance of Security Agencies.