Siberian Miners Riot Against Safety Concerns and Low Wages

Russian Miners Clash With Police

From ITAR-TASS News Agency

MOSCOW, May 15 (Itar-Tass) — Twenty-eight people have been detained for resistance to police in Mezhdurechensk where two methane explosions at a coalmine claimed at last 66 lives and left over 20 missing and more than 90 injured last weekend.

A criminal case has also been opened, the Investigation Committee under the Prosecutor General’s Office (SKP) told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

On May 14, “residents of Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region, blocked a section of the railway line between Novokuznetsk and Abakan” delaying about 20 trains, SKP said.

“Negotiations conducted by regional administration officials and police failed,” it added.

“Soon after that OMON started forcing the people off the railway tracks. They offered active resistance, throwing rocks and bottles at the policemen,” SKP said.

It said the situation had been normalised by 1 a.m. May 15. “Twenty- eight active participants in the action were taken to the police station in Mezhdurechensk. As of this moment, we know of six injured policemen,” SKP said.

A criminal case has been opened for “use of violence against a government official”.

Kemerovo region Governor Aman Tuleyev said about 50 people had blocked the railway line between Mezhdurechensk and Abakan for three hours last night.

“Twenty-eight people were detained. The investigation is under way. There are only two miners among them, nut they have no relation to Raspadskaya. These are mainly unemployed local gang leaders. For example, one of the detainees, Anton Gerasimov, introduced himself as a mine worker, but after a check was run it turned out that he was on the federal police’s wanted list. He was one of the initiators of the march to the railway line,” the governor said.

“Several cars carrying vodka and sandwiches were detained on the way to Mezhdurechensk last night as well. There are very many people in the city now who have no relation either to mass media or Kuzbass. It’s obvious that the people were worked up,” Tuleyev said.

Miners from the Raspadskaya coalmine did not block a railway line, their leader Yelena Pershina said.

“When we were in the square after the funeral, there were attempts to draw us into this, and people would approach us and pull at the sleeves, but we did not go for it,” she told journalists.

Regional police chief Alexander Yelin said 17 OMON policemen were injured during the incident. Two of them received craniocerebral and 15 light injuries. Of those who blocked the railway line, five sought medical attention in Mezhdurechensk as out-patients.

The transport prosecutor’s office is deciding whether to open a criminal case. These people got mainly their hands and faces bruised because they jumped at the shields, Yelin said.

“Today I met with the initiative group that represents the interest of Raspadskaya coalminers. They told me of the wage situation at the mine and other social issues. I learned many interesting things about the mine management’s work. We are investigating all facts. I agreed with all of their demands and ordered my deputies to solve these issues as soon as possible,” Yelin said.

On Friday, Russian Railways Company said more than 20 freight trains and one passenger train with 204 passengers onboard were delayed in Mezhdurechensk for several hours after local residents had blocked the railway line between Karai and Mechdurechensk.

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