Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 128

On July 4, Interior Ministry troops moved in to prevent attempts by striking coal miners to block the Trans-Siberian railroad at two points in the Kuzbass, Russia’s main coal-producing region. Miners had blocked stations in the towns of Anzhero-Sudzhensk and Yurga and were allowing only passenger and commuter trains to pass. Local police were not used because they, like the miners, are suffering wage arrears.

Meanwhile, the town of Anzhero-Sudzhensk ground to a halt as workers from all of the town’s public-sector enterprises struck in protest against wage arrears. Buses and trams ceased to run and hospitals and public utilities maintained a skeleton staff. At a rally in the town, around a thousand protesters called for the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin and a change in the government’s economic policy. Also taking part were scientists and technicians from Novosibirsk. (Russian agencies, July 3 and 4)

Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko told a TV interviewer that the state had met all its obligations toward the coal industry. Illegal actions, he said, such as blockading roads or railways, would not be tolerated. (Russia TV, July 4) Meanwhile, coal miners who have for the past month been picketing the headquarters of the Russian government in Moscow–the “Russian White House”–say they will launch a similar picket outside the Kremlin on July 11. (Itar-Tass, July 3)

A four-hour protest demonstration was held in the city of Saratov on the Volga on July 1, the Monitor’s correspondent in the region reports. Permission for the demonstration had not been given by the local authorities but it passed off without incident. Workers demanded not only payment of wage arrears but also the resignation of President Yeltsin and the Russian government.