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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moskvich Workers Protest

Workers from Moscow's Moskvich plant protested at the White House on Monday, demanding the federal government hand over its 60 percent stake in the carmaker to the city.

Galina Nesterova, chairwoman of the Moscow Automobile and Agricultural Machine-Building Union, told journalists that the protests were the only means of achieving the share transfer, promised by the Cabinet under former President Boris Yeltsin.

"We have nothing left to do but fight for those decisions to be fulfilled," Nesterova was quoted by Interfax as saying. "The government is not solving our problems."

Moskvich technically employs 6,000 workers, but they have not worked since the plant's production lines shut down in March and have not been paid since December, she said.

The union hoped to bring 3,000 workers to the protest, which should continue over the next few days, Nesterova said.

A guard at the White House estimated that 1,500 workers took part Monday. The protest lasted two hours and dispersed around noon, he said, adding that the protesters have a permit to protest for another three days.

Officials at the city government's press service and the Property Ministry's industrial property department were unavailable for comment Monday.

Yeltsin issued a resolution in 1996 to transfer the federal government's shares in Moskvich to the city government, but the resolution was never implemented.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has vocalized the city's desire to acquire the federal government's stake in Moskvich. In October, Deputy Mayor Valery Shantsev threatened "social unrest" if the shares were not handed over.

Moskvich, once one of the country's leading carmakers, has fallen on hard times. Mosenergo cut off the firm's electricity and heat in March, after which the plant shut down.

The local utility says the carmaker has failed to make payments on more than $14 million in debt.

Moskvich has total debts approaching $1 billion.