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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Miners' Walkout Growing


Coal miners in the Rostov region of Southern Russia joined striking colleagues in the Far East on Thursday as Moscow failed to stem a growing tide of unrest over months of unpaid wages.

In the Rostov region, workers at 17 of 24 mines walked off the job to demand wages going back to March, and the other mines were making no deliveries to consumers, said Ruben Badalov, deputy head of the Independent Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers.

Miners have not been paid in months, and representatives of the 800,000-strong union are planning to meet Tuesday to consider nationwide action, he said.

"There is a very high probability of an all-Russian strike," Badalov said.

Anatoly Vasyanovich, head of the coal company Primorskugol, told a news conference in the Far East city of Vladivostok that Moscow had transferred 45 billion rubles ($8.64 million) to appease 10,000 striking miners in the region.

But the region did not have enough cash to settle the claims before next week. "The strike could stop once the wages have been paid," Badalov said.

Thirteen of the region's 14 mines were reported to be not working because of the strike, now in its third week.

President Boris Yeltsin, re-elected July 3, had pledged more support for miners during his campaign. Miners helped put Yeltsin in power in 1991 with mass political meetings. Now, if their strike spreads, it could cast a shadow over his inauguration ceremony Aug. 9.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, whom Yeltsin defeated in the July 3 presidential runoff, lashed out at the government over the strike and its economic policy in general.

"Chaos and crisis are growing in the country," Zyuganov told a news conference after meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

"The financial-budget sector is on the brink of a crash. Every two days a bank is collapsing," he said.

The Communist Party holds just over one-third of the seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and could block Yeltsin's reappointment of Chernomyrdin as prime minister if it joined forces with other opposition groups. ()