We publish this article by Renfrey Clarke, the Moscow- based left wing journalist, about the present situation of the labour movement. We think the article not only provides us with a lot of information supressed in the Western press about the current wave of strikes in Russia but also contributes to the debate about the challenges facing the Russian working class.

In this article, Renfrey Clarke describes how the Yeltsin administration is preparing an all-out offensive against the miners, one of the best organised sections of the Russian working class. It also explains the steps being taken by the miners to defend themselves and the perspective of a generalised movement as other sections of the workers are also under attack.

In a follow up on his previous article Renfrey Clarke describes the real reasons behind the recent coal mine "accidents" in Russia. Early on January 18 an explosion and fire in the Tsentralnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the Arctic north of European Russia, claimed 27 lives. This followed a similar catastrophe on December 2, when 67 miners died in one of the pits of the Kuzbass coal region in Western Siberia.