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    Chernobyl Victims Protest to Keep Social Benefits

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    Victims from the Chernobyl disaster storm the Ukrainian parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers, to oppose the reduction of benefits and social pensions. Our correspondents in Kiyv bring you the full story.

    Several hundred Chernobyl accident protestors are picketing the Cabinet of Ministers in Ukraine.

    They're demanding a withdrawal of the bill, under which social security benefits will be cut, and payments will depend on government budget.

    [Anatoliy Ligun, Protester]:
    "We want them to fulfill what is laid out in the law."

    Now under the new plan proposed by the government, additional pensions for the liquidators of the Chernobyl accident will not exceed a total of 30% of the living wage—just 280 hryvnia or 35 U.S. dollars.

    Some estimate the total government payments for the various categories of beneficiaries amount to 120 to 170 billion hryvnia.

    The government says it just doesn't have the money.

    [Vladimir Oliynyk, MP, Party of Regions]:
    "When the laws were made about the benefits..., nobody asked how much it would cost and whether the money was there. It was populist politics on the eve of the election."

    The Cabinet of Ministers assure that next year, pensions for the Chernobyl victims will increase by 25%.

    While negotiations between protesters and the government continue, angry protesters have torn down iron fencing, storming Parliament. They say they will continue protesting government agencies.

    NTD News, Kyiv, Ukraine.