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Chornobyl Veterans Protest In Ukraine

Widows of victims of the Chornobyl nuclear accident hold photos of their dead husbands at a ceremony at the Chornobyl memorial site in Kyiv.
KHARKIV, Ukraine -- About 100 veterans of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster have staged a protest on Liberty Square in Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The protesters challenged amendments recently proposed by the cabinet that would cut social allowances and support for Chornobyl veterans.

The head of the Chornobyl Veterans' Union in Kharkiv, Borys Korotkov, told RFE/RL that the cabinet's primary goal was to cut spending and save money.

Korotkov said the veterans were urging the president and parliament to leave the law on Chornobyl veterans' support alone, saying the constitution bans cuts in social allowances.

The victims of the Chornobyl disaster are being commemorated in Ukraine today.

The explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986, caused the severe radioactive contamination of some 145 square kilometers in Europe, mostly in Belarus and Ukraine.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the Soviet Union were brought to Chornobyl to liquidate the consequences of the explosion.

Many of them died later from radiation sickness.

There is no consensus as to the exact number of people killed by the explosion or by subsequent exposure to radiation, but it is believed that several thousand people could eventually die as a result of the Chornobyl disaster.

Read more in Ukrainian here