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Ukraine’s opposition bloc urges social benefits payment in east Ukraine

November 27, 2014, 12:58 UTC+3 KIEV
“We will protect the citizens of Ukraine who find themselves in a difficult situation,” the Opposition Bloc in the Verkhovna Rada said in a statement
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KIEV, November 27. /TASS/. The Opposition Bloc in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, issued a statement on Thursday ahead of the first post-election session condemning the move by the authorities to scrap welfare benefits for the country’s embattled eastern regions.

“We will protect the citizens of Ukraine who find themselves in a difficult situation,” the bloc says, adding that it has already submitted a bill on resuming the payment of social benefits to the citizens of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“The Donetsk and Luhansk regions are part of Ukraine as well as other regions, and the commitments to our citizens must be fully met,” the statement says.

The bloc has criticized the work of the country’s president and government, saying that it has resulted in a rapid increase in prices and tariffs, a two-fold fall of Ukraine's hryvnia, as well as hundreds of thousands of unemployed and millions of people left without pensions.

“Our task in the Rada is to stop the country from going down the drain. We will make every effort to contribute to the new civil peace and unity in the country. Only by restoring peace and unity, we will be able to start restoring economy, carrying out reforms and ensuring social protection of Ukraine’s families,” the document reads.

The opposition has assured that it plans to keep the government spending under strict control. “We will tell people the truth about the authorities’ fraud and will not let them buy coal in Africa on overestimated prices,” the bloc says.

The bloc prepares to adopt a bill on the opposition in the second reading, which will create tools for the efficient control over the actions of the authorities and allow the opposition to defend the interests of people.

The top priority measures for the government should include canceling the unfair pension reform and introducing a moratorium on increasing the tariffs for public utilities. The bloc has already introduced a bill on measures to protect the socially vulnerable categories of citizens affected by the economic crisis.

In early November, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced that Kiev was suspending payments of around $2.6 billion, mostly for public sector wages and pensions, for people in the conflict-hit eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine have described Kiev’s decision to stop paying pensions in the region as a “war crime."

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