Moscow, 5 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The chairman of the Russian Independent Union of Coal Industry Workers says almost all coal pits have joined a nationwide strike today called by many unions demanding payment of back wages.
Vitaly Burdko told the Interfax news agency that 198 out of 218 mines are now closed. He said that 460,000 coal miners are participating in today's strike.
The Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Andrei Isayev, said several million people are taking part in meetings, demonstrations and work stoppages in the majority of Russia's regions. He also said that trade unions across Europe, from Moldavia to Spain, had sent messages of support.
The German Press Agency DPA reports that in the Far East some 10,000 people, mostly employees of armaments factories, marched today in Vladivostok. Hundreds of doctors demonstrated in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
In Moscow, a rally is planned alongside Red Square. Other demonstrations are planned in Saint Petersburg, Omsk and elsewhere.