ST. PETERSBURG, June 4 (RIA Novsoti) - Workers at a closed enterprise in Pikalyovo in northwestern Russia were paid over 41 million rubles ($1.3 million) of wage arrears in full on Thursday, a spokeswoman for BasEl Cement said.
"Today we made payments for March, April and May in full," Svetlana Andreyeva said, adding that the plant used its own funds as well as loaned funds from an unnamed source.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the town earlier in the day and said he had ordered the wages to be paid, with funds having been transferred to the enterprise's account on Wednesday.
"The wage debt worth 41,240,000 rubles must be paid off today," Putin said at a meeting on the town's problems.
The problems for Pikalyovo, some 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg, began in 2008 when the Pikalyovo Alumina Plant, now called BasEl Cement Pikalyovo and controlled by a subsidiary of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element group, closed after the price of alumina crashed.
The closure led to two other cement plants, Metakhim and Pikalyovo Cement, stopping receiving raw materials from BasEl Cement Pikalyovo and to their closure, but Pikalyovo Cement partly resumed production in spring 2009, by creating a new technological cycle independent of BasEl Cement Pikalyovo's supplies. The two other enterprises remain halted.
Putin said Thursday that should the owners of the three enterprises fail to agree between themselves, production will be restarted without them.
"If the owners cannot agree between themselves, the integrated complex will still be restored... If you can't agree between yourselves, it will be done without you," Putin told the heads of the plants, which were the major employers for Pikalyovo's 22,000 residents.
Russia's second largest bank VTB said Thursday that next week it will give BasEl Cement 250 million rubles ($8.1 million) to replenish its working capital.