PIKALYOVO (Leningrad Region), June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered that all wage arrears to workers of three closed enterprises in northwest Russia be paid off by the end of Thursday.
Some 300 residents of Pikalyovo blocked a major road on Tuesday in a protest to draw attention to financial difficulties caused by the closure of three large plants in the town last year.
"The wage debt worth 41,240,000 rubles ($1.3 million) must be paid off today," Putin said at a meeting on the town's problems, adding that the necessary funds were transferred to the enterprises' accounts in state savings bank Sberbank on Wednesday.
The problems for Pikalyovo, some 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg, began last year when an alumina factory, now controlled by a subsidiary of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element group, closed after the price of alumina crashed leading to the closure of two cement plants.
Putin also 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.