Chernobyl Veterans Storm Ukraine's Parliament Over Benefit Cuts

KIEV, Ukraine -- 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.

Protesters clash with police in front of Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, September 20. More than 10,000 people, among them Afghanistan war veterans, demonstrated in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to protest proposed benefit cuts, with some of the marchers attempting to break police cordons around the national parliament building.

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.

Source: AFP