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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Activists Begin Hunger Strike Against NATO Base

VedomostiThe Ulyanovsk airport, where activists have erected tents and declared a hunger strike.

Activists from the Communist Party have begun a hunger strike to protest plans to allow NATO to use an air base in Ulyanovsk as a transit point for Afghanistan.

Theprotesters created atent camp near thecity's airport, Interfax reported Sunday.

"We have 16 people," andCommunist activist Rafail Lukmanov told thenews agency.

"We have four tents forhousing andone as headquarters. … NATO doesn't go anywhere without reason, andtherefore government assurances that thebase will be used foronly transport are inserious doubt," he said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said inMarch that thedeal inthe works toallow NATO touse anair base inthe city forthe transit oftroops andmilitary cargo toAfghanistan would be good forRussia, adding that thesuccess ofNATO's mission is essential forfending off thespread ofterrorism andillegal drugs fromAfghanistan intothe country.

Theranks ofthe protesters, aged 20 to60, include local politicians, as well as business and youth leaders, arepresentative ofthe Communist Party told RIA-Novosti.

City authorities inMoscow have spoken out strongly against thepitching oftents inprotests bypolitical opposition groups andhas moved aggressively toprevent their use. Two activists inNizhny Novgorod were detained forattempting toerect tents ona central square inMarch.