Miners in Gukovo Reject Governor’s Figures on Wage Arrears Payments Caucasian Knot
October 6, 2016
About 100 miners have picketed outside the offices of the former coal mining company King Coal. The protesters claimed that reports they had been paid 20 million rubles in back pay were not true.
Caucasian Knot has previously reported that, on September 30, Vasily Golubev, governor of Rostov Region, stated the Regional Development Corporation had paid off 20 million rubles in back pay owed to miners working for the King Coal group of companies. The governor said the remaining debt was 270 million rubles.
The picketers, who gathered on October 5 outside King Coal’s offices in Gukovo, were outraged at the inaction of officials and information disseminated by the authorities, which they called “false.” In particular, they were upset by Governor Golubev’s announcement that miners had been paid 20 million rubles in back pay.
“What 20 million?! At twelve o’clock on October 3, we were paid 17,604,000 rubles,” said Nikolai Nadkernichny, a co-coordinator of the protest. He cited information from the Gukovo Territorial Committee of Trade Union Organizations.
“The governor probably rounded the figure. Well, he did a good job of it. Would that our pay were rounded up this way,” he added.
Nadkernichny doubted the governor’s claim that the remaining wage arrears amounted to 270 million rubles.
“On January 1, 2016, the wages owed us amounted to 319 million rubles. Even if you substract 20 million, you still don’t get 270 million,” sad Nadkernichny.
According to him, 200 people were still employed by King Coal in payroll and collections, accounting, and security. They were not being paid, so the actual amount of wage arrears was even higher.
Dmitry Kovalenko, an activist, reported that, on October 3, 406 workers at the Zamchalovo Mine, 93 workers at Tunneler LLC, and 279 workers at Rostovgormash had received payments.
According to Kovalenko, workers in the above-named organizers had not [sic] been paid for almost two weeks. Only at the Diamond Coal Company were workers being paid.
The protesters were also outraged that Mikhail Tikhonov, Rostov regional minister of industry and energy, had skipped a meeting with them scheduled for last Friday (September 30) and had kept brushing them off.
“His press office said he was in Moscow, but on Friday he was shown [on TV] at tube-rolling mill in Taganrog. The minister is obviously avoiding us, because this summer he promised 1,000 tons of сoal allowances [for heating and cooking] by October 15, but so far we have received only 100 tons,” said Nadkernichny.
“We are waiting for a reply from the President to the registered letter we sent him on September 23 after his community liaison office refused to take it. But so far there has been no response,” said Nadkernichny.
Caucasian Knot has also reported that properties (two administrative buildings and the right to lease the lot were they are located) owned by Diamond Coal Company JSC, a subsidiary of King Coal, had been put up for auction. The starting price for the properties was 50 million rubles.
They Got Out of Their Tractors
Why the so-called common people are increasingly joining the ranks of the so-called fifth column Gazeta.ru
August 29, 2016
The arrest of the people involved in the tractor convoy, as well as new protest rallies in Togliatti after Nikolai Merkushin, governor of Samara Region announced wage arrears would “never” be paid off, are vivid examples of the top brass’s new style of communicating with people. After flirting only four or five years ago with the common people, as opposed to the creacles from the so-called fifth column, the authorities have, in the midst of a crisis, been less and less likely to pretend they care about the needs of rank-and-file Russians. Moreover, any reminders of problems at the bottom provokes irritation and an increasingly repressive reaction at the top.
Previously, top officials, especially in the run-up to elections, preferred to mollify discontent at the local level by promising people something, and from year to year, the president would even personally solve people’s specific problems, both during his televised town hall meetings (during which, for example, he dealt with problems ranging from the water supply in a Stavropol village to the payment of wages to workers at a fish factory on Shikotan) and during personal visits, as was the case in Pikalyovo, where chemical plant workers also blocked a federal highway. Nowadays, on the contrary, the authorities have seemingly stopped pretending that helping the common people is a priority for them.
The people have made no political demands in these cases. Moreover, the main players in these stories almost certainly belong to the hypothetical loyal majority.
The people who took part in the tractor convoy against forcible land seizures even adopted the name Polite Farmers, apparently by analogy with the patriotic meme “polite people,” which gained popularity in Russia after the annexation of Crimea.
In 2011–2012, the authorities used approximately the same people to intimidate street protesters sporting political slogans. That was when the whole country heard of Uralvagonzavod, a tank manufacturer whose workers promised to travel to Moscow to teach the creacles a lesson. Subsequently, the company’s head engineer, Igor Kholmanskih, was unexpectedly appointed presidential envoy to the Urals Federal Distrtict.
Back then, the cultivation of a political standoff between working people from the provinces and slackers, “State Department agents,” and self-indulgent intellectuals from the capitals seemed pivotal, but in the aftermath of Crimea and a protracted crisis, it has almost been nullified.
The people are still important for generating good ratings [via wildly dubious opinion polls — TRR], but it would seem that even rhetorically they have ceased to be an object of unconditional concern on the part of the government.
Nowadays, the authorities regard the requests and especially the demands of the so-called common people nearly as harshly as they once treated the Bolotnaya Square protests.
The government does not have the money to placate the common people, so people have to be forced to love the leadership unselfishly, in the name of stability and the supreme interests of the state. Since politics has finally defeated the economy in Russia, instead of getting down to brass tacks and solving problems with employment and wage arrears, the regime generously feeds people stories about war with the West. During a war, it quite unpatriotic to demand payment of back wages or ask for pension increase. Only internal enemies would behave this way.
“We are not slaves!” Coal Miners on Hunger Strike in Gukovo. Published on August 25, 2016, by Novaya Gazeta. Miners in Gukovo have refused a “handout” from the governor of Rostov Region and continued their hunger strike over unpaid wages. Video by Elena Kostyuchenko. Edited by Gleb Limansky.
So the coal miners in Rostov, who have continued their hunger strike under the slogan “We are not slaves,” have suddenly proven to be enemies, along with the farmers of Krasnodar, who wanted to tell the president about forcible land seizures, and the activists defending Torfyanka Park in Moscow, who were detained in the early hours of Monday morning for, allegedly, attempting to break Orthodox crosses, and the people defending the capital’s Dubki Park, slated for redevelopment despite the opinion of local residents, and the people who protested against the extortionate Plato system for calculating the mileage tolls paid by truckers, and just about anyone who is unhappy with something and plans to make the authorities aware of their dissatisfaction.
Grassroots initiatives, especially if they involve protests against the actions or inaction of the authorities, are not only unwelcome now, but are regarded as downright dangerous, almost as actions against the state. This hypothesis is borne out by the silence of the parliamentary opposition parties. In the midst of an election campaign, they have not even attempted to channel popular discontent in certain regions and make it work to their advantage at the ballot box.
The distinction between the so-called fifth column and the other four has blurred.
Nowadays, the fifth column can be a woman who asks a governor about back wages. Someone who defends a city park. Farmers. Coal miners. Even the workers of Uralvagonzavod, which in recent years has been on the verge of bankruptcy. The contracts the state had been throwing the company’s way have not helped, apparently.
If the authorities, especially local authorities simply afraid to show federal authorities they are incapable of coping with problems, continue to operate only through a policy of intimidation, they might soon be the fifth column themselves, if only because, sooner or later, they will find themselves in the minority.
Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Sean Guillory for the heads-up
A surprisingly frank and dead-on editorial from Gazeta.ru, who usually have not struck me as wild-eyed radicals, about how the Russian authorities have increasingly come to behave as if nearly the entire Russian population, including the so-called common people, is a gigantic fifth column arrayed against them.
The reason they have sunk into this black pit of reaction is that the current regime is simply incapable of solving the country’s numerous political, social, and economic crises, because it has directly or indirectly generated nearly all of them, including the utter lawlessness in Krasnodar Territory that was finally too much for a group of farmers who climbed into their tractors and set out for Moscow several days ago. But because even allegedly simple farmers can become a fifth column as soon as they draw attention to their sorry plight and the role of the authorities in it, they got only as far the neighboring Rostov Region on their tractors before the police shut them down.
This editorial is also valuable for its catalogue of similar conflicts, most of which you probably have never heard of because they are not well covered or covered at all by the western press and only marginally better by Russian print and online media. Russian mainstream TV outlets mainly avoid them altogether, as do most of the opposition parties currently contending for seats in the Russian State Duma and regional legislatures, as the editorialists point out.
So the hunger-striking miners in Gukov and their wives are left to their own devices when dealing with their creepy regional governor, no doubt a KGB vet, who all but accuses them of acting on behalf of the CIA, although they just want to get paid for their hard, thankless work.
The only grain of salt one should chew while reading this editorial is the fact that these local grassroots campaigns have been going in rather large numbers across Russia throughout Putin’s 17-year reign. And in many cases the altogether uncommon common people who fought these battles were fifth-columnized (through beatings, murders, and jail time) as badly as the current grassroots campaigners mentioned by the editorialists. During the fat years of the noughties, however, times were much better economically in the Russian capitals for a lot of people than they had been just a few years earlier, so they preferred not to notice too hard what was going on in their midst, much less some part of their country they would never dream of visiting even.
The Putinist state has been waging a cold civil war against the people of Russia for seventeen years whether the media has noticed it or not. But a lot of the common people have noticed. TRR