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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Miners Issue Warning Prior To Kiev Talks

KIEV -- Striking coal miners in Ukraine threatened Wednesday to take to the streets, just days ahead of a major international bankers' meeting in the capital.

"Miners from the Luhansk region say they are ready to seize trains and move to Kiev to beat people who do not want to pay their wages," said Mykhaylo Volynets, head of the Ukrainian Independent Miners Trade Union.

He said the miners could travel to Kiev soon but gave no precise date. This weekend about 3,000 bankers and investors will gather in Kiev for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's eighth annual general meeting.

Volynets said more than 120,000 miners had now stopped work on the third day of the strike, halting operations at 48 of the former Soviet republic's 260 coal mines.

They are demanding unpaid wages and government preference for their output over cheaper coal imports from Russia.

Union officials say wage debts to miners total about 2.24 billion hryvnias ($1.1 billion) and have been delayed by up to 10 months.

Coal mining companies say a lack of investment and spiralling debts from consumers are to blame for the mountain of wage arrears in an industry also beset by safety problems.

Ukrainian emergencies ministry spokesman Oleh Bykov said Wednesday two miners were killed in accidents Tuesday, bringing mine deaths to four so far this week. About 150 miners have died in Ukraine since the start of the year.

The Ukrainian government plans to close down 80 loss-making pits by 2000.