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Chornobyl Veterans Try To Storm Ukraine's Parliament

The gathering of Chornobyl liquidators near the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on November 1, when the protesters broke down a fence before being fended off by security forces.
Some 1,000 Ukrainian veterans of the clean-up from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster have tried to storm the country's parliament in outrage at planned benefit cuts.

The demonstrators broke down a metal fence that was put up around the parliament several weeks ago after the first attempt of the Chornobyl "liquidators" and veterans of the Soviet Afghan war to break into the building.

About 100 riot policemen gathered near the parliament entrances to prevent the veterans coming into the chamber itself.
A Chornobyl veteran, who said his first name was Vasily, told the Reuters news agency why he was attending the protest.

"I've already had two heart attacks..." he said. "...I came because I have no money for medication, and they are taking away my last pennies. I have a wife and two kids. What are we going to do now? We're going to take the Verkhovna Rada [the Ukrainian parliament] apart, brick by brick, and hang its deputies, one by one."

Ukrainian law currently places people who fought for the Soviet Union in the 1979-1989 Afghan war, and people injured in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident, in a special tax and benefits category giving them reduced prices on most government-provided services, including public transport and electricity and telephone bills.

In September, lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill cutting back on these privileges. The parliament, however, has not yet taken further action.

compiled from agency reports

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