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Russian Activists Start Hunger Strike In Irkutsk

Three activists in Russia's eastern Irkutsk Oblast have begun a hunger strike to protest high utility prices and corruption in the region, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Aleksandr Gorobets, the chairman of the veterans' organization Patriot in the city of Angarsk; Communist Party Committee Secretary in Angarsk Sergei Brenyuk; and doctor Tatyana Denisova announced that they are refusing food but will drink water and take vitamins during the action.

Protests in Angarsk have been going on for months and Irkutsk Governor Dmitry Mezentsev has promised to resolve problems connected with high utility tariffs and corruption. But protesters say he has not kept his promises.

The hunger strikers say that on June 1, which is International Children's Day, two mothers will join their strike. They said the women each have several children and Gorobets and his deputy, Yury Paranichev, visited their small rooms in a local dormitory earlier this year and promised to provide them with social and financial allowances.

But the assistance reportedly has not been received.

The strikers also started a fundraising campaign to cover the travel expenses for a trip by Angarsk residents to Moscow, where they plan to hold protests.

Angarsk, an industrial city founded in 1948, has a population of about 260,000 people.