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Russian Deputies Continue Hunger Strike

24 January 2005 -- Five members of Russia's parliament kept to their hunger strike inside the state Duma today as a sign of support for thousands of pensioners who have been protesting the government's cuts in social benefits.

Dmitrii Rogozin, the leader of the nationalist Rodina faction, and four other deputies started their hunger strike on 21 January.

They said they were taking the action to show support for pensioners and disabled citizens who had benefits such as free public transportation and medical services replaced with cash payments.

Pensioners and the disabled say the money does not cover the cost of lost benefits they had prior to the government's reforms.

Some members of the Duma were planning to introduce amendments that would prevent deputies from protesting inside the Duma building.