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, Lyskov was adducing facts to support his historical thesis that the Soviet coal miners were mostly responsible for Yeltsin’s rise to power and the collapse of the USSR. Supporting the words of Mikhail Kislyuk of the Kuzbass Strike Committee, Lyskov also quotes Yury Simonov, a historian researching this movement. Simonov wrote that: “It is no exaggeration to say that the miners, if not the decisive force who brought Yeltsin into the government, at least did everything they could to bring about this end.”
Lyskov then quotes a certain Yury Boldyrev (not to be confused with the Russian Liberal politician of the same name), who led the strikers of the Donbass and later went on to become a Deputy of the Supreme Rada of the Ukraine representing the Party of Regions.
According to Boldyrev: “Yeltsin relied on the Kuzbass Strike Committees, and it was they who actually gave him the power to break up the USSR.”
Russian politician and regional Governor Aman Tuleev (who resigned his post last month, according to his wiki) reminisced about these events: “Practically all the demands of the miners and their leaders were fulfilled. And today we reap the fruits of the coal miners strikes of 1989-1991. The strikers demanded that Russia secede from the Soviet Union. They got what they wanted: the dissolution of the USSR. In the economic sphere, did they achieve the independence of the coal-mining sector? They demanded that the mines be allowed to establish their own norms of extraction, and they indeed won this demand.”
The Giddy 90’s
As a result of these events, the coal miners enriched themselves. The liberalization of prices in 1992 did not harm them: Theirs was one of the few sectors where wages grew, and quite sharply at that. If earlier, in Soviet times, a coal miner made 3-4 times as much money as a teacher — now that went up to 10 times as much! In other words, the Yeltsin coup was an economic success for this group of workers.
And then things got even better: The miners trade union worked out the so-called “50-50” deal with the Yeltsin government whereby half of all the incoming tariffs into this sector were allocated to the fund which fed their wages. Compare this to other sectors of the economy, where up to 80% of all receipts went to pay off debts, and ordinary workers never saw the money.
When they demanded economic self-sufficiency, the miners didn’t take into account one factor: That coal mining was a crucial source of revenues for the government, along with agriculture. Meanwhile, the Yeltsin coup had virtually overnight turned Russia into a Third World colony of the International Monetary Fund. Now the IMF was demanding that the Russian government institute a no-deficit budget. This could be achieved only via austerity and cutbacks in all areas of social spending. Under the yoke of the IMF, Russian agriculture collapsed. Leaving coal mining as almost the sole source of revenues into the governmental coffers. This turn of events made the Russian coal miners, as a politically active and conscious movement, both much more important, and at the same time, much more vulnerable, than they had ever been.
Next: The role of the miners in the dramatic events of 1993.
[to be continued]