The nationwide strike by Russian coalminers enters its second week today. Thousands of miners remain on strike despite last week’s promise by President Yeltsin that he will ensure back wages are paid as soon as he returns to work. Managers of the Russian coal company Rosugol said on December 6 that the number of strikers was falling and that they expected the strike to end soon, but miners’ leaders seem to be awaiting the outcome of tomorrow’s visit to the Kuzbass by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin. (Interfax, December 8) Meanwhile, Russia’s umbrella labor organization, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, held its third congress in Moscow over the weekend. Union leaders said they would give the government until the end of the year to pay wage arrears. If it does not do so, they will call a general strike. But federation leader Mikhail Shmakov said it would take 2-3 months to prepare for a general strike, which gives the government a welcome breathing space. (AP, December 8) There were unconfirmed reports this morning that miners in the Kuzbass have started to return to work. (Itar-Tass, December 9)
Russia Dragging Its Heels in Partnership for Peace.