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The New Arab

Russian military police beat Syrians following workers' strike

The factory was invested in last year by a key Putin ally [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2019

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Russian military police, present in Syria since 2016, reportedly beat and arrest workers at a Homs fertiliser plant who protested for better working conditions.

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Russia, Syria
Dozens of factory workers in Syria were beaten and arrested by Russian military police after staging a demonstration against their company's Russian investor.

Workers of a fertiliser factory in Homs had protested against a Russian investor in their company, calling for a reduction of working hours and salary increases.

They also asked that their wages be given in US dollars, instead of the volatile Syrian pound.

The factory's disgruntled management then called in Russian military police, present in Syria since 2016, Jorf News reported to disperse the protest with dozens of workers reportedly beaten by the military police.

They were then arrested and taken to the Hmeimim military base in Latakia, the main base for Russian troops and aircraft in Syria, according to Syria Call.

The Syrian regime signed a contract with Stroytransgaz in November last year, granting the Russian company the right to exploit Syria's sole fertiliser company, General Fertilisers Company (GFC), for 25 to 40 years.

The Syrian regime is given 35 percent of the factory's revenues, in return.

The Russian takeover of GFC has prompted fears that the regime will lift subsidies on fertilisers which have buoyed Syria's struggling agricultural industry, Enab Baladi reported.

Stroytransgaz is majority owned by Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire tycoon in the energy industry and a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The company has been investing in Syria since before Russia intervened in the Syrian war.

Stroytransgaz first made investments in Syria in 2005 and was involved in the Arab Gas Pipeline, designed to transport Egyptian natural gas to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In 2018 the company was granted rights to extract phosphate in Palmyra by the regime.

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