TODAY: Putin likens Oleg Deripaska and other Pikalyovo factory owners to ‘cockroaches’ in open castigation of the super-rich; fears of social unrest due to unemployment becoming a reality?; Poland angered by Russian ‘rewrite’ of the origins of World War Two
Prime Minister Putin has made an all-guns-blazing appearance in Pikalyovo to reprimand the owners of the town’s three factories and instruct them to pay their workers’ wages, in what Bloomberg calls ‘the most visible industrial action in Russia since the Siberian miners’ strike of 1998.’ He launched a stinging attack on the businessmen behind the wage arrears, including Oleg Deripaska, saying: ‘you have made thousands of people hostages to your ambitions, your lack of professionalism — or maybe simply your trivial greed’. He also threw a pen at the oligarch and made him to take a tour of a cement factory. The Telegraph interprets Putin’s attack on Deripaska, ‘an unloved figure in Russia’, as a deflection tactic. Apparently workers have now been paid $1.3 million in wages arrears.
The owner of London’s Evening Standard, Alexander Lebedev, is also facing problems, beingsued by Russian journalists who claim they receivedno compensation when made redundant and are owed their last month’s salary. Forty-eight workers at the Baikal paper mill in Irkutsk Oblast have gone on hunger strike to protest against wage arrears, which union leaders claim amount to as much as $3.2 million. Ria-Novosti reports on a mother and daughter who committed suicide following being sacked from debt-stricken air carrier Dalavaia.
Activists from the opposition Solidarity movement are picketing the Khamovnichesky Court building in Moscow in protest against the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A study carried out in the US has stated that Russia is one of four authoritarian states that use their riches to undermine the rule of law with excessive political control.
President Medvedev has had an informal dinner with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts, Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan, to ‘discuss the situation in the Caucasus, including Nagorno-Karabakh settlement‘. Russia has defended its amassing of troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia as ‘totally legitimate.’ Poland is highly displeased about an article called ‘Fabrications and Falsifications About the Soviet Union in the Run-up to and Start of World War II,‘ published on the Defense Ministry’s web site, which blames Warsaw for starting World War Two by refusing to submit to Hitler’s ‘modest’ demands.
PHOTO: Prime Minister Vladmir Putin speaking to billionaire Oleg Deripaska at a meeting of factory owners in the town of Pikalyovo on June 4, 2009. (Alexei Nikolsky / RIA-Novosti)