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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier Urges Talks on Strike

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin urged regional officials Tuesday to negotiate with union leaders to try to head off a general strike called for March 27 over salary arrears.

The Kremlin also plans to send top ministers from the newly reorganized Cabinet to some of the most restive regions before the scheduled strike, Interfax reported.

In a telegram to the leaders in each region, Chernomyrdin ordered them "to immediately get involved personally in negotiations with the unions and businesses to try and come up with concrete measures to ease social tension," Interfax reported. He called on regional authorities to exert pressure on local employers to ensure that salary arrears are settled and to ensure that the timetable for settlement of arrears is respected.

The strike could be embarrassing to President Boris Yeltsin, who repeatedly has promised to resolve the crippling nonpayment crisis and this week overhauled his government in a bid to get economic reforms back on track.

Russian trade unions expect to mobilize 20 million people for the strike to protest chronic delays in wage and pension payments.

Meanwhile, General Anatoly Shkirko, commander in chief of Interior Ministry troops, said he would use all the means at his disposal to prevent any unrest on March 27.

"If the March 27 protest action deteriorates into mass unrest or pogroms, we will mobilize all our reserves," Interfax quoted him as saying.

Interfax said Tuesday that the government's two new first deputy prime ministers, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, will visit various regions before the planned strike. (AFP, MT)