More than 1,000 coal miners have been picketing government buildings in Kyiv since June 17, while local strikes are in progress in some Donbass mines. The Union of Coal Industry Workers, organizer of the protests, is demanding payment of overdue wages amounting to 1.7 billion hryvna (almost $1 billion). It is also calling for increases in mine workers’ pensions and for the reintroduction of guaranteed state orders to coal mines. The union believes that state orders would preserve at least some unprofitable mines from planned closure. The sector’s wage backlog is part of a country-wide backlog now estimated at more than $2.5 billion.
Senior officials, including presidential administration chief Yevgeny Kushnaryov, yesterday met with protest leaders and sought to address their demands. Defense and Security Council head Volodymyr Horbulin, however, pointed out that the government lacks the means to fulfill those demands. He commented that "the economic situation constitutes the main security threat to Ukraine." President Leonid Kuchma, for his part, conferred with the governors of the coal-producing Donetsk and Luhansk regions and "stressed the necessity of radical restructuring of the coal mining industry," the presidential press service reported. (Ukrainian agencies, June 17-19)
Southern Tajik Region, Mutinous Colonel Join Forces.