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Russia: Miners End Blockade; Security Council Adopts Plan

Moscow, 25 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Security Council today adopted a plan to normalize the country's troubled coalmining industry. The decision comes after coalminers ended their ten-day blockade of key railways yesterday after government assurances their wages would be paid. Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said a federal commission would be created to deal with the coal industry.

Yastrzhembsky said council members blamed both crises in part on the previous government of former Prime Minister Viktor Chenromyrdin, whom Russian President Boris Yeltsin sacked in March. Chernomyrdin was replaced by Sergei Kiriyenko.

Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin has summoned prominent Russian business leaders to a meeting on Friday to hear their views on resolving the country's economic crisis. Russian shares plunged to 16-month lows last week amid political turmoil in Indonesia and its own domestic problems.

Yastrzhembsky also announced Yeltsin would meet regional leaders tomorrow and later on Thursday with the heads of three television broadcasters -- state-run ORT and VGTRK, and private-run NTV.

Earlier today, Yeltsin told a gathering of the International Press Institute in Moscow that dependence on corporate owners is one of the greatest threats to media freedom in Russia.

Today's Security Council meeting, chaired by Yeltsin, also focused on the recent flareup in violence in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan and last week's drop in Russian share prices.