Ukraine has stopped compensation payments to victims of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, according to Yuri Andreev, president of the all-Ukrainian public organisation, Ukraine’s Chernobyl Union. He was one of many protesters who picketed the Supreme Council building in early February. Andreev says payment of pensions and free special medical aid to Chernobyl victims are also under threat. Ukraine’s 1999 state budget envisages $426 million for social payments, three times less than is provided for in the law on the status and social protection of citizens who suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe. But even this is unlikely to be paid.

“We demand that the Supreme Council should adopt our draft resolution, which obliges the government to allocate at least 145 million hryvnas [$36 million] to the Chernobyl fund monthly,” said Andreev. The picketers were also insisting on restoring in the Ukrainian parliament the Committee for problems resulting from the Chernobyl catastrophe, which has been formally abolished.