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Russian Space Facility Workers In Hunger Strike Over Wages

UGLEGORSK, Russia -- Twenty workers at a space launch facility Russia is building in its Far East have begun a new hunger strike to demand overdue wages.

The hunger strike is the latest labor unrest at the Vostochny (Eastern) facility, which Russia is building to eliminate reliance on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for manned launches.

Strikers say their employer, Stroiindustriya Construction Company, owes 16 million rubles (about $300,000) to 311 workers.

Workers have staged several hunger strikes in recent weeks, and some painted messages on rooftops asking "Where are our salaries?" and seeking help from President Vladimir Putin.

Putin promised on April 16 that all overdue wages will be paid soon.

Stroiindustriya director Sergei Terentyev was detained in early April after an investigation was launched into the situation.

There are more than 5,700 people working at Vostochny, a project that has been plagued by delays and corruption allegations.

The newspaper Kommersant reported last week that the first manned launch from Vostochny will be held "after 2020," not in 2018 as planned.