Disgruntled Russian miners expand protests, block roads

MOSCOW (AP) — Strikes over unpaid wages broke out across Russia on Tuesday, with coal miners, scientists and other workers blocking major railroads and highways to demand their salaries.
Governors of the nation’s 20 mining regions discussed the wage arrears with Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, while miners from the northern Vorkuta and Inta areas threatened to bring their protest to the capital next month.
As of Tuesday, the government owed coal miners $1.45 billion, Nemtsov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Nemtsov said the miners’ problems had been exacerbated by bad management, which drove the industry deeper into crisis.
Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko is to meet today with trade union leaders. He promised miners the government would raise funds to pay back wages, but the miners have grown wary of such promises, which have not been met in the past.
Dozens of mines throughout Russia have been shut since early May, when miners went on strike to demand up to six months in back wages.
On Tuesday, striking miners in the central Siberian town of Anzhero-Sudzhensk blockaded the Trans-Siberian railroad for a fifth day, diverting trains to an alternate route hundreds of miles longer.
Miners from neighboring regions said they would seal off the alternate route starting today, effectively cutting train movement between Moscow and Russia’s vast eastern regions.