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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unions, Parties Rally Behind Yeltsin

More than 80 unions and political parties representing millions of Russians have banded together to show their support for President Boris Yeltsin.


The group, called the Council of Democratic Parties, Organizations, Movements and Trade Unions, represents a cross section of Russian society -- from intellectual unions of writers to coal miners and truck drivers.


Political parties represented include Democratic Russia and the Economic Freedom Party, headed by Moscow businessman Konstantin Borovoi.


The coalition, created last week, drafted a letter in which it stated that its members support Yeltsin's call for a referendum and a new constitution while urging that the Congress of People's Deputies -- which they call a "Mafia-Communist Dictatorship" -- should be disbanded.


Parliament has "usurped all the power in the country", the letter said. "The referendum is the only and the last lawful way to clear up the conflict and to prevent chaos and civil war".


Since the coalition was created, it has grown from about 28 to 80 member groups, said Vladimir Brodulov, vice president of the Russian Federation of Air Traffic Controllers.


The Independent Miner's Union, which represents 50, 000 workers and played a leading role in Russia's reform process through its landmark 1989 strikes, has also signed the letter.


Estimates for the total number of people represented by the whole coalition were not available.


The union's leaders had recently hinted that it would strike to support Yeltsin. While union officials refused to comment on their strike plans Tuesday, the director of an American based non-profit group that provides technical assistance to the miners said they are prepared to strike soon.


"It appears that the miners are ready to go on strike. The situation is reaching a boiling point", said Mary Louise Vitelli, director of The Coal Project of Partners in Economic Reform.


Other union leaders, such as Brodulov, of the air traffic controllers, said Tuesday that they would soon vote on whether they will strike to support Yeltsin, aiming to shut down all transportation in the country.


"We are ready to strike and will discuss it more this Friday", Brodulov said. "But we will not strike alone and hope that other trade unions will support us".


Unions were by no means united, however. Also on Tuesday, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the successor to the only legal trade union under the Communist government said it was demanding new elections for the president and the Congress of People's Deputies.


The federation -- which claims to have 60 million members uniting factory directors and workers -- is also against Yeltsin's proposed referendum and could strike in the future, said Viktor Listikov, a federation spokesman.


"The situation is like it was in February 1918", Listikov said, referring to the beginning of Russia's Civil War. "We may soon again face a social explosion".