Continuing with this historical piece written by reporter Dmitry Lyskov, the headline blazes: Miners Assisted In the Deconstruction Of the USSR And Almost Destroyed Russia As Well!
Where we left off, the Soviet coal miners strikes of 1989 had jumped, rather exponentially, from purely economic demands (“We need soap! Oh, and food too!”) to radical political demands, including the dismantling of the USSR and the introduction of American economic “advisors”.
Yesterday I mentioned Wassily Leontief, whose name I misspelled because I forgot to google him and check the spelling – my bad! Apparently the Soviet coal-miners were huge fans of Leontief’s economic theories and wanted him to lead the Market Reforms project. By then, Leontief was very old (born in 1905) but still alive and kicking (he didn’t die until a decade after these events, in 1999). According to his wiki, Leontief had several run-ins with the Cheka in the 1920’s, he tricked them by claiming to have cancer (he lied), so they allowed him to leave the country, and he went on to run the Economics Department at Harvard University. Leontief’s major contribution to Economics was his theory of Input-Output Analysis, which earned him a Nobel Prize. Input-Output Analysis studies how the outputs of one assembly line are used as the inputs to a different assembly line. Before Leontief, economists had believed that assembly lines operated completely autonomously of each other. [Is a very weak little joke, Comrades.]
As I mentioned, the coal miners received the blessing of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov, which emboldened their crusade to import Leontief. They wanted to sit at his feet and learn all the wisdom from the Master. Leontief never came, but even after their basic demands for soap and money had been met, the miners continued on, with ever-ballooning demands. They were on a roll!
Lyskov interviewed a participant of those events, guy by the name of Mikhail Kislyuk, who was the Deputy Chairperson of the Kuzbass Strike Committee. According to Kislyuk, the strikers didn’t trust the Kremlin as far as they could throw it. There was the paranoid perception that Moscow was trying to deceive them. Gorbachov met with several of the strike committees, but never showed his face in the Kuzbass. “After that, we became disillusioned in him and started to issue political demands as well, including the resignation of the President and the government.”
After this, the strikers naturally turned to Boris Yeltsin as their natural ally. Like the strikers, Yeltsin hated Gorbachov and also had come to hate the Soviet “regime”, the Nomenklatura, and Communism in general. In the spring of 1990 the miners sent an Agitprop train to Moscow, demanding the election of Yeltsin as the Chairperson of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Republic. The miners picketed the Congress delegates and threatened a general strike. “Without our support,” Kislyuk averred, “it is highly dubious that [Yeltsin] would have been elected Chairperson of the Supreme Soviet of Russia.” And the amazing thing is that Kislyuk was able to emit such an utterance and not hang his head in shame.
[to be continued]