On June 1, 1962, triggered by a Kremlin announcement of a steep rise in the prices of meat and butter, thousands of workers in the city of Novocherkassk went out on strike. Greatly alarmed by a strike of this magnitude, the Soviet leadership of the worker's state swiftly dispatched several high-level negotiators (including Anastas Mikoyan) to Novocherkassk, at the same time hastily deploying several thousand troops and tank units to the city. On June 2, some of the strikers became violent, breaking into the police station, where five strikers were killed. The Moscow leaders determined to disperse the crowd promptly, and troops and police opened fire, killing 16 and wounding scores of others. More than 100 workers were put on trial and seven executed, with many others given long prison terms. Because the events of June 2 were reminiscent of tsarist Russia's slaughter of peaceful demonstrators in January 1905 (Bloody Sunday), a tight lid of secrecy was placed on the entire episode, which was virtually unknown outside the Soviet Union until it was mentioned by Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago.
Only with the advent of glasnost and the efforts of investigative journalists beginning in the late 1980s did the story gradually begin to leak out.