ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- Hundreds of Russians left jobless by factory closures staged a protest Tuesday that shut down a major highway west of St. Petersburg.
Chanting "Work! Work!" the 500 or so protesters blocked traffic in Pikalyovo, a town that straddles the main road between St. Petersburg and the city of Vologda.
Most were in desperate situations, having received no salaries since a cement factory in Pikalyovo was closed in February, union official Andrei Petrov said.
The cement plant's closure left 2,500 people out of work -- more than a tenth of the town's population. Since then, two more local factories have also either shut down or suspended operations.
Pikalyovo residents have stopped paying utility bills, leading authorities to shut off the town's hot water, Petrov said.
"The whole town could die, people can't pay for communal services, they're not buy groceries," he said.
More than 10 percent of Russians nationwide are unemployed, leading to concerns of social unrest in poorer regions outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.