YELTSIN TO SEND DEPUTY PREMIER TO KUZBASS FOR TALKS WITH MINERS.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 137
After meeting in Moscow yesterday with the governor of Tomsk Oblast, Viktor Kress, President Yeltsin promised to send Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev to Kemerovo Oblast “today or tomorrow” to try to persuade striking coal miners to remove their pickets from the Trans-Siberian railway. Kress doubles as chairman of the council of the “Siberian Accord” regional economic association: Industry in Tomsk and other member-regions of the association has been severely hit by the miners’ action, which has been underway since July 3. “The railroad war in the Kuzbass is telling very negatively on the region, where important cargo is arriving,” Kress said yesterday. He said that the railways must be unblocked because Tomsk and other Siberian regions “are suffering enormous losses.” (Russian agencies, July 16)
Yeltsin’s promise represents an important concession: Until now, the government had insisted that it owed the miners nothing and would not discuss their complaints until they removed their pickets. Kress’ mission to Moscow also provides an interesting example of the lobbying function which is the chief role of Russia’s eight regional associations, of which Siberian Accord is by far the most active. Though Kemerovo Oblast is a member of Siberian Accord, the issue was not tackled at regional level. Instead, Kress had to go to Moscow and persuade Yeltsin to get involved in the search for a solution to what is a major regional but not yet a truly national problem.
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