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Chernobyl Cleanup Workers Protest

October 25, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Dozens of men who took part in the cleanup after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster marched around the Kremlin on Wednesday to protest an amendment they say will cut their benefits.

``They constantly want to change our law and change it for the worse,″ Vladimir Naumov, head of the Chernobyl-Russia Union in the central Russian city of Tula, said as he marched with some 60 protesters.

As the protesters marched, the lower house of parliament rejected the amendment and returned it to committee for more work.

The legislation seeks to simplify compensation for people whose health was damaged by radiation exposure. It would provide monthly payments of $35 to $175, depending on the degree of harm. The payments were based on the workers’ previous salaries and how long they spent in the Chernobyl zone.

Supporters of the amendment say it will provide higher payments for 80 percent of those qualifying for Chernobyl-related benefits, and slightly lower payments for the remainder. But the protesters don’t accept that.

Chernobyl cleanup workers have also staged protests in Russian regions to demand overdue benefit payments.

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