Angry Russians in street protest

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 50,000 people marched through Moscow, brandishing placards that made clear they were sick of dreams, tired of unfulfilled promises, and fed up with cohabiting with a super-rich minority. "Yeltsin is a Thief," said one banner; "Boris, Get Lost!," said another. "Give Us Our Wages Now."

All across Russia, hundreds of thousands took to the streets for a long- planned day of protest. Although the turn-out was short of the expectations of the trade union organisers, it was one of the largest protests since the end of the Soviet Union.

The Kremlin said 615,000 marched nation-wide, and pointed out that Mr Yeltsin would not be quitting; the unions are certain to claim millions.

Russians have every reason to protest: runaway inflation, unpaid wages, frozen bank accounts, tumbling imports, growing poverty, huge unemployment, escalating disease. "Just imagine how you would feel if this happened in Britain," said Sergei, 65, a retired engineer.

The mood in Moscow was subdued; elsewhere there were no reports of serious trouble. However, there is an explanation for this. Trade union leaders are still generally distrusted as stooges, the legacy of Soviet Union days when unions were controlled by the ruling Communist Party.