war crimes in Ukraine

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Chernobyl: thirteen years, thirteen troubles

V.Kalchenko, Kharkov
Thirteen years have passed since the Chernobyl catastrophe. This sad jubilee became not only the day of the national sorrow, but also a pretext to assess the state’s attitude to the former ‘liquidators’ — members of salvation teams. In Kharkov, we asked two persons to discuss this problem: Vladimir Kiyko, the deputy major, chairman of the Commission in charge of affairs of citizens suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe, and also Maya Sheremet, the head of the Sector of social protection of citizens suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe.

The Commission headed by Mr. Kiyko does not forget about the liquidators and assists them in any ways possible. Yet, it does not solve all the problems, because of the lack of finances and a large number of the liquidators: 13844 liquidators live in Kharkov.

Recently a control registration was held and 649 people were stripped of the status of liquidators, others were duly reregistered. However, their privileges are not realized. Pensions are permanently detained, ‘Chernobyl drugstores’ are not supplied with the needed medicines, auxiliary money for feeding Chernobyl children are not paid. All this causes protest and discontent. Maya Sheremet remarked that there were not open manifestations of the discontent, no tent camps near the building of the region administration, no pickets near the City Executive Committee, like in other towns. Nonetheless, the poor social protection, grave diseases and absence of any hopes for the future continue to kill those whom we thanked on 26 April for saving out lives.

The number of invalids increased dramatically during the last 13 years. In 1990 in Kharkov 11% of the total number of liquidators were invalids, in 1999 the corresponding number was 40%. Most of the invalids are in their late forties. They cannot afford to buy the needed medication and the drugstores which must give them the medication free of charge stopped to do it, since the state treasury owes them 10 thousand grivnas.

According to Maya Sheremet, the law, which has to protect the rights of the liquidators and other people who suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe, is imperfect. Because of frequent diseases, the liquidators loose their jobs, they are devoid of prospects of professional growth, which makes our life full and useful. Some people became desperate. During the thirteen years 18 liquidators from Kharkov committed suicides.

Rigid legal acts do not take into consideration all the nuances that could permit the liquidators not to relate themselves to the ‘lost generation’. This is clearly seen by those who permanently held contacts with the liquidators and the representatives of their NGOs.

They see the problems, but there are no resources. This year 330 liquidators from Kharkov got material aid: ten thousand grivnas for all. This is a miserable donation, insufficient for buying medicine. Thanks to the municipal addition 40 children from Chernobyl, living in Kharkov, got 8 grivnas 50 kopecks per month. At the expense of the city budget 150 berths in Kharkov hospitals are kept for the liquidators. And their number is about 14 thousand and they fall ill very often.

Representatives of the city authorities patch the holes of the state system. They are sure that they do all possible. Is it so?
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