Estimated 1,500 turn out for demo against closure of Russian aluminum smelter

An estimated 1,500 people held a demonstration on Saturday against the planned closure of Bogoslovsk Aluminum Smelter, the facility's trade union leader said.

An estimated 1,500 people held a demonstration on Saturday against the planned closure of Bogoslovsk Aluminum Smelter, the facility's trade union leader said.

The protesters were mainly workers from the smelter, which is located in the town of Krasnoturyinsk, and other local people.

They marched along one of the town's main streets to a square.

On the square, they held a rally during which they approved appeals to the Russian government and Sverdlovsk region administration to support the region's aluminum industry and reduce electricity prices for it, the smelter's union leader, Nikolai Prokofiev, told Interfax.

"We have sent requests to the governments of Russia and the region. All they do is to make promises, but there has been no support at all. There was no one from the regional government [at the demonstration] today. We are proposing setting up a new commission and giving consideration to the issue of development of the aluminum industry in the region. We are also proposing creating jobs in the city to stop young people leaving," Prokofyev said.

The regional trade unions federation said in a statement that, a year ago, the smelter's trade union committee held talks the management of the Rusal company, the regional governor, and officials of the Russian Economic Development Ministry that resulted in a settlement to set up a technopark in Krasnoturyinsk as a mass job creation project.

However, the smelter's trade union committee complains that too little has been done to put the project into reality.

"By now some of the points in that agreement have been implemented. The volumes of aluminum production at the 6th Division - Units 5 and 6 of the electrolysis facility - have been kept at the former level. Besides, Rusal has acquired the Bogoslovsk Heat and Power Plant. This makes it possible to reduce electricity expenditure, which accounts for about 40 percent of production costs. But by and large, the situation in the aluminum industry remains tense nationwide and in the region," the statement quoted federation deputy chairman Alexei Kiselyov as saying.

The Sverdlovsk region police chief Valery Gorelykh told Interfax the demonstration had been officially permitted and "carried through without any violations."

Police put the turnout at about 1,500.

Bogoslovsk Aluminum Smelter's products include aluminum-silicon and aluminum-magnesium alloys that are used in making aircraft and as a means to prevent corrosion.

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