Unpaid Russian miners: chronicles of protest

 

It’s been over a year since the employees of Kingcoal mining group have begun to fight for recovery of back salary arrears. The Centre for Economic and Political Reforms, which has actively supported miners all this time and has fought together for their rights, has made the chronicle of the main events:

On the 22nd of April, 2016 – Gukovo miners complained of salaries non-payment since 2015 on the «hotline» of the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation.

At the beginning of June 2016 – an open-ended protest was decided to hold due to inaction of authorities and salary arrears non-payment.

On the 21st of June, 2016 – daily demonstrations that has still continued was permitted to conduct.

On the 27th of June, 2016 – the miners picket threatened to block the highways and appealed to the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On the 16th  of July, 2016 – the Prosecutor’s Office of the Rostov region demanded to put the chief leader of miners Valery Dyakonov under house arrest. He had already been on trial on a trumped-up case.

On the 22nd of August, 2016 – 120 miners went on a hunger strike. On the 23rd of August the Rostov government stated that it «has sought solutions to this problem».

On the 25th of August, 2016 – the Rostov government declared the beginning of debt payments of 50 million rubles (an amount is different) to miners. There was the campaign for elections of the State Duma deputies this time.

On the 29th of August, 2016 – miners stated that some of them had got «penny» as a result of payments (from several hundred to several thousand rubles by many thousands arrears). They called for the resignation of the Rostov Governor.

On the 7th and 12th of September, 2016 – miners’ demonstrations were held in front of the headquarters of the regional government.

On the 1st of October, 2016 – the Rostov authorities stated they paid 20 million rubles to miners. For its part, miners denied this fact.

On the 7th of October, 2016 – on Vladimir Putin’s birthday miners delivered personally an appeal to the Administration of President to intervene in this situation and solve their problem.

October, 2016 – «information wars» begun between miners and the Rostov government. It published «positive information» that was not true. The press service of the initiative miners group denied published information and dissemination own point of view.

On the 2nd of November, 2016 – miners declared that they would participate in an Rostov-on-Don demonstration. They intended to act decisively right up to block main highways to Moscow.

On the 3rd of November, 2016 – Gukovo miners met the Deputy Governor of the Rostov region Alexander Grebenshchikov and other officials. Real protesting leaders were tried to keep out of the meeting. Instead of it, officials choice several persons of the most loyal miners and made meeting with them, what was showed on TV to pursue people in the fact that Gukovo miners were absolutely fine. Officials were harsh and abused miners. The meeting didn’t produce any results.

On the 23rd of November, 2016 – a delegation of federal authorities arrived in Gukovo. It consisted of the State Duma deputies Valery Rashkin and Nikolay Kolomeytsev, the representatives of the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, Executive Office of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District, Prosecutor’s Office, etc. Valery Rashkin and the CEPR’s head Nikolay Mironov initiated jointly this meeting and held it with the support of the Centre for Economic and Political Reforms. Officials decided to address federal authorities and Dmitry Medvedev personally to propose to use the regional Rostov Reserve Fund for debt repayments.

On the 25th of November, 2016 – the Rostov Governor Vasily Golubev met Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian Prime Minister held a meeting on the salary arrears non-payments. He delegated to the Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor to solve a debt problem in Gukovo.

On the 5th of December, 2016 – Dmitry Medvedev commissioned again to make proposals on salary arrears payments.

On the 1st – 19th of December, 2016 – miners weren’t paid the salary arrears despite the intervention of the federal authorities in this problem. The regional Reserve Fund was proposed as a possible way to pay debts. Nevertheless, the Rostov Government referred to the fact that it had no right to use the Reserve Fund. For its part, the federal authorities failed to take effective action in this direction.

Gukovo miners decided to hold the demonstration, that had planned on the 20th of December, 2016 near the Humpback Bridge, in front of the White house in Moscow, where in 1990s miners went on strike massively. In return, the United Russia party declared the establishment of a working group on debt payments. On the 16th of December, 2016 Gukovo miners made a formal statement in which they expressed no confidence in this working group.

Miners were tried to having «preventive chats». The Rostov authorities accused miners of extremism. The law enforcement begun conducting raids. The Rostov TV showed many plots distributing negative information about miners and several deputies from the State Duma, who advocates for miners rights.

On the 19th of December, 2016 – Gukovo miners chartered buses and were to leave Gukovo for Moscow in number of 150-160 people. It was announced the special operation «Anaconda» in the region. The transport enterprise was under pressure and refused to provide cars for miners. Police officers, Cossacks and Special Forces surrounded miners. A strengthened search regime was imposed for all passages out of mining towns. The sale of tickets to Moscow was stopped for miners. As a result, miners didn’t leave Gukovo to hold planned demonstration on the Humpback Bridge. Even a small group of three persons, who could went out the town, was returned back after they weren’t sold tickets and got on the bus at station in Zverevo.

On the 20th of December, 2016 –the support group for miners gathered on the Humpback Bridge in Moscow. Miners read out their statements during the video conference organized by the Moscow State Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and the Centre for Economic and Political Reforms (CEPR).

On the 26th of December, 2016 – the authorities made some concessions despite the fact that miners had failed to leave for Moscow. The meeting proceeded with participation of miners in Gukovo where the Deputy of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District Anatoly Safronov took a part. The CEPR’s head Nikolay Mironov also participated in a meeting and joined the Council for Domestic and Information Policy to the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District. Then officials promised to pay salary arrears, that really begun at the same day. It was stated that all salary arrears should be paid off during several months step-by-step (50 million per month) till July 1, 2017.

On the 26th – 31st of December, 2016 – miners were paid 50 million rubles. Public protests affected on salary arrears payments.

On the 29th of December, 2016 – the Deputy Governor Alexander Grebenshchikov was dismissed.

On the 13th – 16th of January, 2017 – the State Duma deputy Valery Rashkin addressed a plenary session due to uneven salary payments and the Rostov authorities’ refusal to conclude an agreement with miners on debt repayments. It was also connection with the miners’ demands to pay salary arrears as soon as possible. The Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin drew attention to the problem. He held a session with participation of representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labor and drew up the official protocol instructions of the State Duma. The Rostov authorities were reported to have no obstacles to paying the salary arrears that would be drawn from the contingency fund. Federal funds are provided to the Rostov authorities additionally.

On the 26th of January, 2017 – the Rostov Governor arranged a conference where he promised to sell all property of bankrupted mines during the first half of 2017 (it hasn’t been implemented further). He stated that «Anaconda» operation had been conducted without his permission and hadn’t been necessary.

Late January, 2017– miners received the next 50 million rubles.

January-March, 2017 – the authorities prevented Gukovo miners and Kuban farmers from uniting.

On the 8th of February, 2017 – the State Duma deputies from United Russia faction stated that salary arrears should be paid by 1st July completely (it hasn’t happened in fact).

On the 1st of March, 2017 – the miners leader Valery Dyakonov was sentenced to the restriction of liberty with a ban on leaving the town of Zverevo and participating in demonstrations.

On the 16th of March, 2017 – an action was as a meeting with deputies and participation of the CEPR’s head Nikolay Mironov. It proceeded at the Humpback Bridge, where a ten-miners delegation came to. The demands were to accelerate salary arrears, to clarify the proceedings and priority of payments, to take into account all debts that wasn’t calculated transparently. Miners weren’t concluded an agreement with. The State Duma refused finally to consider miners’ problems by this moment. The State Duma session closed all relevant questions on miners.

On the 21st of March, 2017 – miners declared the uneven payments and failure of terms and arrangements that had been announced previously.

On the 28th of March, 2017 – «Regional Corporation Development» of the Rostov region stated that miners received debt payments of almost 200 million rubles. By the way, mid-December the sum, declared by authorities officially, had been amounted 350 million rubles. At the same time, miners had also reminded the compensation, in particular, for a retirement, injuries, penalties for late payments, etc. However, authorities didn’t discuss these issues.

On the 19th of April, 2017 – the Deputy Governor Sergey Bondarev, who was appointed to replace Alexander Grebenshchikov, met with miners. They declared the failure to respect arrangements, terms and a road map.

On the 26th of April, 2017 – The Rostov Deputy Governor held a regular meeting, that ended badly because of his abusive language to miners. Sergey Bondarev threatened to have criminal proceedings against protesting miners and their leaders. In particular, he accused Tatyana Avacheva, who has been one of the chief leaders of protesting miners, of alleged theft of a number of low-value items.

On the 22nd of May, 2017 – the Rostov Governor Vasily Golubev held a meeting with miners. It had no results but new mutual accusations. Miners warned of a hunger strike and demanded to pay all salary arrears as well as compensation. It hadn’t been included in amount of arrears, that authorities had announced officially, despite the fact that such compensation should be paid under the law.

On the 19th of June, 2017 – the Rostov authorities provided the statement on «payments of the total amount of arrears» to miners.

On the 1st of July, 2017 – salary arrears wasn’t paid in full. Previously the Rostov authorities declared the payments of 296 million rubles. Then it was amounted 308 million rubles from salary arrears that had been initially designated of 350 million rubles and hadn’t concluded compensations. In this way, authorities didn’t implement its commitments and the «road map». According to the estimates of miners in July 1, 2017 salary arrears amounted 125 million rubles. In addition, compensations and other payments, including debts on ration coal, amounted about 250 million rubles. Total – 375 million rubles. The Rostov government stated that it fulfilled all the obligations.

On the 4th of July, 2017 – miners went on an open-ended hunger strike, that proceeded in the Rostov region, in order to settle the multimillion salary arrears expeditiously. About 60 people participated in a hunger strike by May 6, 2017. At the same time, Valery Rashkin notified to hold an action in July 11, 2017 at the Humpback Bridge to start a hunger strike in Moscow.

On the 8th of July, 2017the police started criminal proceedings against Tatyana Avacheva, other leader of protesting miners, in connection with alleged theft of a number of low-value items that actually had been at her custody and had handed over to an insolvency representative under the act. According to the police, «case is under control in high places» (that means the regional government). It allows to draw a conclusion that it is the political order.

On the 15th of July, 2017 – representatives of the initiative miners group took part in the demonstration «For Russia without criminal oligarchy and corrupted officials» that was organized by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) in the centre of Moscow. Miners demonstrated their protest against salary arrears with wapping by their hard hats. Head of KPRF Gennady Zyuganov promised to bring up the miners’ issue during the Parliament session and to try to include salary arrears payment in the future draft budget.

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