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Russia: Yeltsin Orders Atomic Energy Minister To Pay Back Wages

Moscow, 17 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin met his Atomic Energy Minister today and told him to pay back wages to workers in the country's nuclear power sector as soon as possible.

Viktor Mikhailov was summoned urgently to Karelia, where Yeltsin is vacationing. While his meeting with Yeltsin was underway, some 100 nuclear power station workers rallied outside the seat of the government in Moscow to protest over unpaid wages.

First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov met the protesters and pledged the government will start paying off wage arrears. Negotiations with the protesters were to continue later today.

The Moscow rally followed a 400-kilometer protest march by nuclear power station workers which started two weeks ago from the city of Smolensk. The workers claim unpaid wages in the nuclear power sector now total 177,000 million rubles ($31 million).