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Chornobyl Veterans Renew Protests In Ukraine

Scores of Chornobyl veterans stages a sit-in protests in Donetsk late last year.

Scores of Chornobyl veterans stages a sit-in protests in Donetsk late last year.

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Some 200 veterans of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster clean-up have rallied in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk to demand that they receive full pension payments, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The protesters gathered in front of the Donetsk Oblast Pension Fund offices.

Protest organizer and Chornobyl veteran Volodymyr Derkach told RFE/RL that the protesters have two demands.

The first is that all overdue pensions for veterans be paid in full in accordance with court rulings.

The second is for an extraordinary session of the Donetsk Oblast Council with Premier Mykola Azarov to be held in order to find out why some veterans receive full pensions and others get less.

The Ukrainian government decided in September to cut the pensions of Chornobyl clean-up workers and Afghan war veterans as well as elderly people who receive compensation for either having fought or worked as children during World War II.

The decision has triggered protests in Kyiv and in other cities across Ukraine. The Donetsk Chornobyl veterans protested from November 15 to December 11.

Retired miner Hennadiy Konoplyov, 70, died of a heart attack on November 27 in Donetsk while police forcibly removed a large tent used by Chornobyl veterans on a hunger strike.

The protesters in Donetsk agreed to end their protest on December 11 after the regional government promised to pay the veterans 1 million hryvnyas ($123,000) in unpaid pensions.

Donetsk is President Viktor Yanukovych's hometown.

Read more in Ukrainian here