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Ukrainian Hunger Strikers End Protest After Pledge Of Payments

Some of the 30 or so liquidators of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster during their hunger strike in early December.
DONETSK, Ukraine -- About 20 veterans of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster cleanup effort have ended their hunger strike in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

At least five Chornobyl veterans were continuing to stage their round-the-clock protest, and one of them vowed to continue his hunger strike.

The veterans decided to stop their protest on December 12 after Donetsk Oblast state administration chief Andriy Shishatskyy promised to pay their pensions for November and December "in full."

One of those protesters, Volodymyr Derkach, told RFE/RL he is shocked by the others' decision to end the hunger strike. He said the official's verbal promise cannot be taken seriously and the protest should continue.

Derkach added that he and several other veterans who do not agree with the decision to end the protest do not know what they should do next.

Mykola Honcharov, a Chornobyl veteran and organizer of the protest actions, was not reachable for comment.

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

The decision has triggered protests across Ukraine, including in Kyiv. The Donetsk Chornobyl veterans have been protesting since November 15.

Read more in Ukrainian here