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Transport Strike Continues In Eastern Ukraine

KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Public transportation workers in the east Ukrainian city of Kharkiv say they will continue their strike until their overdue salaries are fully paid, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The strike launched on December 20 affects trolleybuses and trams in the city, which is Ukraine's second largest with a population of almost 1.5 million.

Initially the protesting workers said the strike was just a one-day warning. However, later on December 20, the workers decided to continue the strike until their back wages, which total about $3.8 million, are paid.

Andriy Ilhov, one of the leaders of the We Shall Get Through human rights organization, told RFE/RL that the Kharkiv Electrical Transportation Company leadership tried to pressure the workers to end their strike, but they said they will not do so until they receive their back wages for the past five months.

Serhiy Dulfan, the director of Kharkiv City Council's Transport and Communications Department, said that the city authorities knew in advance about the planned strike and brought 16 large buses from the western city of Lviv to provide alternative transportation. Dulfan told journalists there are no difficulties with public transport in the city.

A total of 162 trams and 196 trolleybuses remain in the city's four depots. On a normal day, up to 600,000 passengers use trams and trolleybuses in Kharkiv.

Ilhov said the striking workers have sent an open letter to President Viktor Yanukovych urging him to intervene.

Read in Ukrainian here.