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Protesters in south Ukraine's Odessa demand resignation of National Bank head

February 27, 2015, 16:27 UTC+3 ODESSA
The deteriorating social and economic situation in Ukraine has sparked several protests over the last weeks
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NBU head Valeria Gontareva

NBU head Valeria Gontareva

© EPA/ANDREW KRAVCHENKO/POOL

ODESSA, February 27. /TASS/. Activists of "financial Maidan" are picketing the building of the regional department of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) on Friday, demanding resignation of NBU head Valeria Gontareva.

Around 100 demonstrators blocked traffic at the crossroads near the NBU regional department building. They brought Ukrainian flags and posters that read "1 Dollar = 30 Hryvnias. How Will People Survive?", "Bank Says: No Money - Sell a Kidney", "Bank Windows - Good Target", "300 Suicides Because of Loans".

Protesters say that around 5,000 residents of Odessa experience problems with loans in foreign currency. Among their demands is the possibility of paying back loans in accordance with the exchange rate fixed at the moment of signing an agreement.

An NBU representative came out to protesters and said he "absolutely agrees with them". He promised to send a letter to Kiev with protesters’ demands.

Meanwhile, residents of Odessa worried by plunging Ukrainian currency have been buying food and other goods. Drivers have lined up at gas stations. The authorities recently announced that prices will increase for electricity, communal services and public transport.

The deteriorating social and economic situation in Ukraine has sparked several protests over the last weeks.

Around 400 protesters gathered near the Ukrainian parliament’s building in Kiev on February 18, chanting "All Deputies Are Separatists" and "Give Back Our Money." The protest action was organized by people who lost their money in Ukrainian banks. Earlier, they blocked the Institutskaya Street in the capital’s center when marching toward the parliament building.

On February 13, around 200 people picketed Kiev’s mayor office in Ukraine, protesting against a hike in metro fares. The protesters were mostly young people aged 15-20 wearing camouflage and masks. Several women came to the mayor’s office barefoot, saying that "the current authorities took off our shoes." From February 7, the metro fare in Kiev doubled from 2 hryvnias to 4, triggering panic buying of cheap tokens.

The growing number of protests triggers increasing repressions from the Kiev authorities. Vladimir Ischenko, deputy director of the Center for Social and Labor Research, said the number of repressive actions towards participants of peaceful demonstrations in Ukraine "is very high." "It exceeded even the level of repressions during Maidan [mass protests in the Ukrainian capital in 2014 that eventually resulted in ouster of then-president Viktor Yanukovych]," Ischenko said.

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