Russia on the Rack

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Keep an eye on Russia this week, as the miners whose militancy first thrust Boris Yeltsin into power mount the barricades to call for his head, while foreign investors bolting ahead of a rate hike send the stock exchange tumbling. “Although miners’ strikes have happened before, the combination with the stock exchange slide could make this a very serious crisis for the government,” says TIME correspondent Andrew Meier.

Thousands of Eastern Siberian miners who have not been paid for up to eight months have begun blockading the trans-Siberian railroad -- and against expectations, they have been joined by teachers, scientists, nurses and other government employees. “Some of them have even been calling for weapons,” says Meier. “The future of Prime Minister Kiriyenko’s government may depend on how it manages this crisis.” And the first two days of trading on the Russian bourse this week suggests foreign investors may be as uneasy about Kiriyenko’s prospects as were the legislators bullied by Yeltsin into confirming him.