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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Hungry' Russians Stranded On TV Game Show in Berlin

BERLIN -- Almost two weeks ago, 12 young Russians arrived in Berlin, without money, food or any idea where they were. In less than three months, one will have won $1,000 per month for the rest of his or her life.

The six men and six women aged 20 to 28 are competing for the prize in a TNT television show called "Golod," or "Hunger," where contestants are deposited in a container in an unknown city and forced to find their own food and money.

After the first three weeks, the audience votes to eliminate one person every week until just the winner remains, having in the words of the show's web site -- www.golodtnt.ru -- survived for 100 days without food or money.

A German tabloid reporting on "Hunger" thought this meant the contestants would actually be starved.

"Russian TV lets young women starve in a Berlin container," said an outraged Bild newspaper on Thursday, branding the show "perverted television" and reporting police warnings that threatened to pursue any contestants caught stealing food.

But TNT producer Dmitry Troitsky rebutted the claims they would be left to starve, saying contestants could eat all the boiled pasta and potatoes they wanted and would be closely watched by doctors. He said the show aimed to make contestants feel an emotional hunger for home and familiar comforts, but would not turn them into criminals or force them into prostitution. "The contestants are sent into the city with camera teams, so there is no question of them resorting to crime," he said.

The contestants, selected from 10,000 applicants, are taken out in pairs to try their luck on the streets of the German capital.

So far the contestants' attempts to earn an honest crust in the city have not met with outstanding success.

The "Hunger" web site said Yana, 24, had managed to earn 40 cents for singing in Russian, while the first pair to be sent out had to fall back on the kindness of some Russians they met who gave them some bread, cheese and ham.