Chernobyl veterans storm Ukraine's parliament over benefit cuts

AFP , Tuesday 20 Sep 2011

Thousands of Ukrainian veterans of the Afghan War and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster clean-up try to break into parliament in Kiev as they reject the planned benefit cuts

Thousands of Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Afghan war and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster clean-up tried Tuesday to storm parliament in Kiev in outrage at planned benefit cuts, an AFP correspondent reported.

Organisers said some 10,000 people had joined the protests, which subsided when several ruling party legislators walked out to meet the mostly-elderly group, local media reports said.

The demonstrators broke through barriers manned by helmeted riot police and managed to break glass panes on the main entrance to the Verkhovna Rada parliament building before retreating.

The rally was organised after lawmakers gave initial approval last week to a bill cutting back benefits paid to those who helped clean up the April 1986 nuclear disaster and those who still live on the affected lands.

The measure also slashes spending on war veterans and some other groups of citizens as a part of new austerity measures aimed at steering Ukraine safe of the economic turmoil now rocking Europe.

The measure is being backed the by the ruling Regions Party of President Viktor Yanukovych which is keen to show it has the budget under tight control.

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