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Russian Hunger Strikers Receive Back Wages

TOMSK, Russia -- The authorities in Russia's Tomsk Oblast have loaned money to the owner of the Tomsk ball-bearing factory to pay workers' overdue wages, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The oblast authorities in the Siberian region met on September 21 with 20 workers at the factory who launched a hunger strike the previous day. The workers say they have not been paid for over 18 months.

The factory's management, which owes its employees a total of 42 million rubles ($1.36 million), had to send 700 workers on unpaid leave as of September 1.

Local officials also met with the hunger strikers on September 21, and their unpaid salaries (130,000 rubles, or $4,200 each) were paid the next day.

The local government has loaned the factory's owner, Sergei Magazov, 50 million rubles ($1.6 million) to pay his debts to the workforce.

The rest of the workers have been assured they will receive their overdue wages by October 1.