Pensioners Are Among Those Hit Hardest By Crisis

KIEV, Ukraine -- With an average monthly pension of Hr 1,060 ($130), life is getting tough for older Ukrainians.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol are among the leading causes of suicide.

Ukraine’s minimum pension is Hr 596 ($73) per month. Converted into kilos of pork beloved by Ukrainians, it only buys nine kilos (19.8 lbs) from the supermarket.

But a typical pensioner would not succumb to the luxury of regular shopping in supermarkets, or of buying such expensive cuts of meat for other than a very special occasion.

Often their diet is based on staples such as potatoes and grains bought in bulk at the market.

An average pensioner receives Hr 1,060 ($130) – still a pittance for a lifetime of work.

Faced with a tiny pension that is constantly devalued by inflation (in 2008, it was a Europe-leading 22.3 percent), pensioners have to rely on relatives to survive, or try to supplement their income in any way they can.

They sell flowers or balloons in underpasses or play in the streets with an age-old accordion.

Hardship leads to despair, which can be tragic.

In Kyiv Oblast alone, one or two people commit suicide daily, according to the Interior Ministry.

Most often these are people in the 40-to-60 age group.

Economic reasons – such as inability to pay debts to banks, poverty and joblessness – top the list of causes cited by the ministry.

But personal reasons, such as the loss of loved ones and remorse, are also common.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol are also among the leading causes of suicide.

Source: Kyiv Post