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Russia: Miners Continue Strike

Moscow, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Roughly one-third of Russia's coal pits remain closed today as thousands of miners continue to strike over unpaid wages.

Interfax news agency quotes the press service of the state coal company, Rosugol, as saying that about 85,000 miners in 59 pits are still on strike.

The deputy head of the Russian Coal Miners' Union, Ivan Mokhnachuk, said today that striking workers were concentrated in the regions of Rostov and Tula. He said local union committees there and elsewhere had refused to follow a decision of the Union leadership last week to suspend the strike after the government promised to pay all back wages by the end of the year.

Mokhnachuk said the Coal Miners' Union is planning a conference tomorrow in the Rostov region to discuss the strike. Striking miners in Rostov in particular have turned the strike into a political protest, demanding the resignation of the government.

The Russian government last week promised to pay almost $400 million in wage arrears by the end of the year. But many miners, some of whom have not been paid since June, remain doubtful that they will actually receive the money.