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No-one paid them any attention until they decided on a desperate step: they blocked the rail line and highway that pass through the town. After that, the strike resounded throughout the country. Putin came, accompanied by a multitude of highranking Moscow bureaucrats. Deripasko was summoned, and together with a dressing-down from the government, received financial assistance of $150 million (Argumenty i Fakty, no. 24, 2009; Novaya Gazeta, 8 June 2009; Maksimov, 2010). Under a hail of criticism from Putin the oligarch paid his workers, promised other concessions, and to some degree relaxed the pressure.
665; Rossiyskiy statisticheskiy ezhegodnik, Moscow, 2001, p. 104; Rossiyskiy statisticheskiy ezhegodnik, Moscow, 2009, p. 737. As can be seen from Table 10, during the twenty years preceding the reforms (19701990), the death rate of the Soviet population was comparable to the figures for the developed countries cited, with the exception of Japan. If we take into account the USSR‘s lag of around 50 per cent in GDP per capita compared to the developed countries – and of about 25 per cent in consumer spending compared to the US – these results testify to the virtues of the social system that existed here.
To increase his profits Deripasko re-equipped one enterprise while shutting the others down altogether, laying off large numbers of workers. To the same end he stopped financing the local hospital and polyclinic, putting their continued existence in question. For months he did not pay his workers, running up a wage debt of 41 million rubles. The workers began going on strike and calling meetings where they demanded that the privatised enterprises be re-nationalised. No-one paid them any attention until they decided on a desperate step: they blocked the rail line and highway that pass through the town.