Ships were marooned at a buoy in the Gulf of Finland on Wednesday as a strike by pilots kept St. Petersburg and other Russian ports shut.
The strike, which began on Tuesday, is in protest against a government decision to ban commercial piloting at key Russian ports and force pilots to work for the state, for far lower wages, beginning in 2002.
The strike has affected the ports of St. Petersburg, Murmansk and Kaliningrad.
The St. Petersburg port's press secretary said 60,000 tons of cargo turnover was being lost per day and the strike was costing the port $350,000 a day. "At the port it's madness," said Kirill Kotin.
He said 23 ships were stuck at the buoy in the Gulf of Finland and seven needed pilots' assistance to switch piers in the port. - (Reuters)