Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 176

A coal miner in the western Siberian town of Anzhero-Sudzhensk has blown himself up with a grenade. Local police say they do not know why 32-year-old Vladimir Germanov took his own life, but did not rule out the possibility that he acted out of desperation caused by non-payment of wages. Fifteen other miners in the town are on a hunger strike to demand payment of arrears. (Interfax, September 21) Their situation is typical of miners throughout the Kuzbass, which contains more than a quarter of Russia’s coal deposits. Tensions in Kemerovo have been running high since a $90 million World Bank credit to restructure the region’s coal mining industry disappeared. It is believed to have been stolen. (NTV, September 21)

Earlier this month the regional governor, Mikhail Kislyuk, suspended all payments to the federal budget and declared a state of economic emergency in the oblast, saying he wanted to avoid a repeat of the situation in Primorsky krai. (Itar-Tass, 9 September 1996) Miners in the town of Prokopevsk in Kemerovo Oblast are so disgusted with their local authorities that they have created their own self-governing body. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 21) The new body, which was set up on September 11 at a conference of the town’s work collectives, is reminiscent of the strike committees set up by miners in the Kuzbass in 1989. That wave of strikes represented a revolt against the Communist-dominated local governments and state-run trade unions of the Soviet period, and was supported by Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. But today’s activists are reacting against the independent trade unions created in 1989 and against the regional authorities installed by the Yeltsin leadership. The disappearance of the World Bank credit adds a new twist to an old story.

Russian Far East Facing Difficult Transition.