Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
During the entire day of February 7th Ukrainian military pensioners rallied outside the walls of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev in large quantities. They tried to force deputies to index their pensions and to preserve their benefits. The correspondent of the Federal News Agency (FAN) reported about this from the place of events.
On their way to the action, the correspondent of the FAN imagined a crowd of zealous and impudent “veterans of the ATO” trying to hammer out some new benefits from deputies. But at this meeting there wasn’t any “veterans of the ATO”. Instead retired military servicemen, police officers, firefighters, rescuers, and other security officers came to the Rada.
Many of them seemed to be a bit embarrassed by their political activity – they spoke in a low voice, crowded together “according to types of military forces”, and many of them refused to say something on camera. “What should I say? Well, I will say that the pension is peanuts – but who will hear me?” explained one of them.
At the same time, all these men aged “from 45 to 65” had one thing in common – if one imagines any of them in a military uniform, it would suit them very well. A military bearing drilled by years of service was felt.
“Understand that the majority of us would never have begun to demand excess privileges for ourselves. But the authorities put people in such a humiliating situation. The majority of persons here have a pension – from 1,500 to 3,000 hryvnia per month (3,000-6,000 rubles). How can one live for a whole month on such a pension? Moreover – with the current prices of a ‘communal flat’? We starve, many are in despair,” reported the retired Colonel Valery to the FAN.
His colleagues reluctantly confirmed – after receiving a deserved rest [retirement – ed] they actually became beggars. For example, the retired military serviceman Bogdan even had to move from the city to the village – in order to somehow survive. And today on a 2,500 hryvnia pension he hardly makes ends meet.
“Sometimes there is a strong desire to buy a gift for my grandchildren, but, excuse me, there is simple nothing for them. I won’t even speak about the needs of my wife – we live from hand to mouth. We would definitely not live in Kiev on our pensions,” stated Bogdan sadly.
At this point, activists from the crowd of pensioners who gathered at the gate of the Rada started loudly shouting at deputies “to come out and look at us in the eyes”. The chant “Come out to the people!” continued for 5 minutes. During this entire time not a single curtain stirred at the windows of the Rada – deputies obviously hid and waited until the military pensioners dispersed. In the end, exactly an hour was allocated to them for the rally – time couldn’t pass quickly enough. At the entrance to the Rada several dozens of National Guard soldiers who were pulled together here to prevent incidents were shivering coldly in the icy wind. However, judging by the mood of the participants of the protests, they were clearly not threatened by anything. The protestors chanted “Shame!”, “Shame!”.
The main demand of the retired military personnel aimed at deputies is to reconsider their pensions and to charge them so that they correspond to the pensions of those who retired two years ago. The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine developed the corresponding changes to the law and even sent them to the Rada for approval. But deputies aren’t in a hurry, and the military pensioners are forced to live on a pension of 2,000-3,000 hryvnia per month (4,000-6,000 rubles).
“You know, even under Yanukovych there was still some order – our pensions at the very least were enough for us to live on, and besides, they were regularly raised. But the current authorities simply forgot about us. And now he [Poroshenko – ed] goes to have a rest on tropical islands, and he spits on us! It’s a shame – I served this State for all my life, and it abandoned me in old age,” complained the retired Major Georgy.
“The people are very angry, veterans wait for years for a recalculation of their pensions, and the authorities feed us with nonsense about ‘tomorrow’. But we will fight to the end!” stated the retiree Stepan.
Retired military servicemen say: pensions should have been recalculated in 2016, but it still hasn’t happened. Therefore, the picketers declared: if they don’t receive an response to their demands soon, they will gather for another rally in March.
When the protesters walked in rank and file to the exit, they were seen off by a big poster with Bandera’s portrait and the inscription: “Nothing will stop an idea whose time has come”. It looked like mocking – however, so does the actions of the Ukrainian authorities in relation to people who are nearly the most loyal to them.
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