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Russian Would-Be Homeowners Stage Protest

IRKUTSK, Russia -- Dozens of would-be homeowners have picketed the regional government in the east Siberian city of Irkutsk to demand their overdue apartments, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Some 270 local families have paid for new apartments that were to be built by December 2008 but remain unfinished.

One of the protest organizers, Yelena Mazurenko, told RFE/RL the picketers' grievances are addressed not to the construction company but to local police. Mazurenko said the money the families paid to the construction company was misused or stolen, but the local prosecutor's office and police have done nothing to investigate.

The protesters held placards saying "A Thief Should Be in Jail!" and "Idle Authorities, Resign!"

Irkutsk Oblast governor Dmitry Mezentsev and Irkutsk Deputy Mayor Dmitry Razumov met with the protesters. The governor's press service told journalists that Mezentsev formally asked Razumov to investigate the construction company and ascertain the reasons for the delay. Mezentsev also asked Razumov to meet again with the prospective homeowners on October 17 and update them on what has been done.

Mezentsev plans to visit the construction site at the end of October to monitor progress.

Read more in Russian here