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Russia: Striking Russian Miners Plan Protest on Inauguration Day

Moscow, August 2 (RFE/RL) -- A trade union leader says striking Russian coal miners in the Far Eastern region of Primorye plan to stage a protest rally to coincide with the inauguration of President Boris Yeltsin next week.

Interfax news agency quotes regional trade union leader Pyotr Kiryasov as saying today that "Primorye is not in the mood for the festivities set in Moscow." He said that most of the people in the region have not been paid for the last five months and "have no money to eat or to buy their children things for school."

Varying figures put the number of striking miners in Primorye, at 10,000 to 13,000. The protest over unpaid wages started three weeks ago. Yesterday, protesters were joined by thousands miners in the southern Rostov-on-Don region, who also have not received their salaries for the last four months.

Yeltsin, who had pledged more support for the country's miners during his re-election campaign, is to be inaugurated next Friday (Aug. 9).

First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov said today that money from the federal budget had already been sent to the miners and that more funds will be transferred on Monday.

Russian new agencies said Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Shafrannik will arrive in the region at the weekend for talks with local officials.

An unnamed official with the national coal mining concern Rosugol said that in addition to strikes in Primorye and Rostov-on-Don, protest actions had also begun today on the Far East island of Sakhalin and in the Far North region of Vorkuta.

Meanwhile, a protest fast by more than 300 workers at the Primorskaya power plant, the largest in Primorye, has entered its ninth day. Yesterday strikers' relatives held a demonstration in the regional centre, Vladivostok. They said that if workers' demands for unpaid wages remained unfulfilled, they would block the Trans-siberian railway and the highway between Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.