Today continuing with this historical piece written by reporter Dmitry Lyskov, entitled: Miners Assisted In the Deconstruction Of the USSR And Almost Destroyed Russia As Well!
Where we left off, the striking miners have enriched themselves, joined forces with Boris Yeltsin, and helped to bring down the USSR. All in a day’s work, and now we have arrived at the fateful year 1993.
Lyskov stipulates that what happened next was more like chaos theory, a series of improbable coincidences; and it should not be assumed that the miners had any clue what their actions were leading to, or could see into the dim future of these events. But as 1993 unfolded, in a civil war between the President and the Supreme Soviet, it was enough for one of the parties to even hint at “miners are upset”, and people started throwing money at them, despite the stern edicts of the IMF. Everybody remembered how the miners had helped Yeltsin to defeat Gorbachov; now the new players included Alexander Rutskoy and Ruslan Khasbulatov.
But the Glory Days of the coal miners were numbered. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin! The moving finger writ, and found Russia wanting. The IMF had its own plan for “reconstructing” the Russian mining industry, and it didn’t include supporting an overpaid elite caste. The warning bell rang in 1994, when at a session of the Interdepartmental Commission to study the problems of the mining regions, Chairperson (and member of the Russian Government) Alexander Shokhin stayed in the meeting hall only long enough to listen to the presentation of the World Bank, and then, with shockin’ rudeness, abruptly left the hall, snubbing the protesting trade unionists outside.
In fact, paradoxically, the IMF plan included shutting down the most profitable Russian mines — go figure — and by the time of the 1995 budget, state subsidies to the mining industry had dropped by 40%. The austerity measures led to dissatisfaction, and a nation-wide coal miners strike. The strike began on February 1, 1996 and lasted for two days.
The strike proved that the miners still enjoyed real clout in the nation. Just prior to it, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) had won the elections to the Duma/Parliament, harbingering an interesting Presidential election campaign that would not bode well for the “Team of Reformers”. Understanding the not-so-solid ground they stood on, and thinking that the miners might switch sides to “He who promises the most $$$$”, the government quickly gave in to the strikers and promised them over 10 trillion rubles of government support!
Still, everybody knew that this pampering of the miners could not go on forever. The Moor has done his duty, now the Moor can go, Preferably without letting the door slam his tushie on the way out. The IMF and the World Bank held most of the cards at this point, and the Russian government had no choice except to bow and scrape like Sambo and Quimbo before the piercing-bullet gaze of Simon Legree.
By 1998 the coal miners were just as miserable as the rest of the working people in Russia: At several mines, the wages were more than 7 months overdue! People were actually expected to show up at work every day, for months on end, without seeing a paycheck! Around this same time, the scandal of the “Overpaid Writers” broke out: Russian media reported that some of the leading “reformers” (including Anatoly Chubais and Alfred Koch) had received advances of $90K [dollars] apiece for their upcoming (as yet unwritten) book about the Russian market reforms. At this point it was becoming clear, even to the ignorant, exactly who was who, and what was what, in this brave new world.
In January 1998 the coal miners of the Primorye region, using an oldie but goodie gambit, attempted to block the Trans-Siberian highway. Among their “political” demands was one directly to Chubais personally: That he write a book about the fate of the miners and donate his earnings to the paying of their salaries.
Next: The strikers cut Russia in two.
[to be continued]