Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 150

There were conflicting reports yesterday about the status of the strike action being taken by coal miners in various parts of Russia. On the island of Sakhalin, to the north of Japan, where the threat of a total electricity blackout has been most acute, miners’ leaders have agreed to let twenty-five trucks of coal a day pass through their pickets. This should allow the island’s power station to remain in service, though electricity cuts to homes and factories are expected to continue. In the Kuzbass in western Siberia, miners have responded to an appeal by regional governor Aman Tuleev and have removed their pickets from two junctions on the Trans-Siberian Railway. In Primorsky Krai in the Far East, miners removed pickets from a stretch of the Trans-Siberian railway in Partizansk, near the regional capital Vladivostok; they were said to be responding to a threat of criminal charges from the police and regional prosecutor. (RTR, August 4)

Overall, however, the problem of wage arrears appeared no closer to resolution. There is, indeed, no single solution. Russia’s coal miners hold the federal government, which retains sizable stakes in many of the newly privatized mines, responsible for their plight. But Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov says the government has paid its debts to the miners. He blames the owners of the mines–in some cases, miners’ cooperatives–for the wage delays. (International Herald Tribune, August 4)

In other places, wage arrears have other causes. In Vladivostok yesterday, unpaid ambulance drivers began an indefinite strike. The problem there involves feuding between the governor of Primorsky Krai and the mayor of Vladivostok, which has provoked the regional administration to cut off funding to the city. Also yesterday, Russia’s air traffic controllers’ union announced preparations to strike on August 9. They allege that funds assigned by the federal government for their wages have been misappropriated by the federal agency that oversees air-traffic control in Russia. (NTV, August 4)