Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Strikers Step Up Demand for Gorbachev's Ouster

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Strikers Step Up Demand for Gorbachev's Ouster

Article excerpt

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV has been wined and dined in Tokyo, but a different sort of reception awaits the Soviet leader when he returns home this weekend.

Labor unrest is spreading across the Soviet Union, this week among industrial workers in the Ukraine, next week perhaps in a general strike across Russia. Political demands, including the resignation of the government, are prominent in every strike action.

At the same time, anti-Gorbachev rumblings inside the Communist Party are growing. Party organizations around the country are planning to turn the planned plenary meeting of the party Central Committee on April 24 into a forum for attack on Mr. Gorbachev, who is party leader.

The strike wave continues to be led by the militant miners, about 300,000 of whom have stopped work since the beginning of March, demanding the ouster of the government. The government claims that huge losses, including of steel and energy production, are rippling through the economy as a result of the strike.

Despite a report Wednesday that one large mine returned to work, the strike is holding. The independent daily Kuranty reports 82 mines and 14 mine-related enterprises in the Ukrainian Donbas region are on strike. In the Russian Kuzbass, in the northern Urals, and on Sakhalin Island, 131 mines and related enterprises are shut down. The Raspadskaya pit in Siberia resumed work only after the mine was shifted from central government control to the jurisdiction of the Russian government, led by Boris Yeltsin.

In Kiev in the Ukraine, miners and other workers protested last Sunday. A number of active-duty soldiers attended, the Soviet government daily Izvestia said.

At a larger rally on April 16, miners from all over the Ukraine set up a republican strike committee. They demanded dissolution of the Soviet and Ukrainian parliaments and dissolution of Communist Party cells in factories and in all military, KGB (secret police), and police units. They called for nationalizing party property.

On the same day, "warning" strikes took place across Kiev, led by municipal transport workers. A senior executive at a major Kiev industrial plant said antigovernment feelings became deeply entrenched after price hikes were introduced this month. …

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