Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 114

Protest action at the Promyshlennaya mine of the Pechora coal basin continues into its fourth week. Forty-eight miners have stayed underground since September 25 to press social demands for workers who are losing their jobs as a result of mine closures. Since early October, ten women have lent support with a hunger strike. Other pits in the region are on general strike alert. Energy officials in Moscow are visibly anxious to downplay the miners’ action as well as its political content, which is why the Russian media has been producing conflicting reports on the Vorkuta situation at any given time. (5) In addition to their grievances against the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry, the miners are indignant at what one hunger striker termed the Duma’s "indifference" toward the dramatic problems of miners in general, and in particular those who toil in the Russian north. (6) The government stands accused of trying to force the issue by withholding miners’ salaries. (7)

The sorry state of affairs in Vorkuta is likely to be repeated elsewhere, as Russian mines brace themselves for a bleak future. An emergency commission has just been created in the Primorye region to grapple with the planned closure of nine unprofitable pits over the next two years. (8)

Watching Lebed.