Chernobyl Clean-Up Workers Protest Benefits Cuts

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Days before the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion, the Ukraine government is proposing cuts in financing for the thousands of brave souls who took part in the clean up operation. Many Chernobyl veterans took to the streets in Kiev on Sunday to voice their outrage.

Thousands of veterans from the Chernobyl clean up operation rallied in central Kiev on Sunday.

They are protesting a government proposal to cut their medical, pension and housing benefits.

At the time of the Chernobyl disaster, they were guaranteed significant financial support to compensate their dangerous work.

But these benefits have since been reduced, and the veterans are finding it increasingly tough to prove a connection between their health problems and their role in the clean-up operation.

Just days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, many are outraged.

[Anatoly Olenikov, Chairman, Chernobyl Union Ukraine]:
"The government proposes a cutback in benefits for those people once called the defenders of the fatherland, people who risked their health and life to participate in the liquidation of the (Chernobyl) accident fallout."

The implications for the current crisis in Japan are also evident.

[Anatoly Olenikov, Chairman Of Chernobyl Union Ukraine]:
"You can't deprive them of their hope in this anniversary year. It's a terrible tragedy - you can't deprive them of these benefits, what with what's happening today in Japan at the nuclear station. People have come to express their outrage."

Ukraine's government has claimed that it is compelled to make budget cuts this year as it is still dealing with the aftermath of the world financial crisis.

Ukraine is seeking financing for a new convex structure to cover Chernobyl's stricken no. 4 reactor.

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