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April 26, 1986, 32 years ago, a notorious accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant took place, which was the largest technogenic catastrophe in the history.
Thousands of people were involved in the elimination of the consequences of the accident, those who would later be called “Chornobyltsi”, “Chornobyl people”.
Many of them received a lethal dose of radiation, and their families were left without breadwinners, many have deteriorated their health and were forced to undergo treatment for the rest of their lives. Many had to leave their homes and evacuate away from the accident, yet a part of the population had to put their health at risk due to work in the 30-kilometer zone, better known as the "exclusion zone".
The fight against the Chornobyl disaster became a struggle for Chornobyl people rights and social protection.
Over the years since the disaster, privileges for Chornobyl people are periodically cut back, partially returned, and cut back again. And all this happens against the backdrop of promises of support and worthy social guarantees from the state.
What are the categories of Chornobyl?
Persons with disabilities from among the liquidators of the consequences of the Chornobyl accident and those who suffered from the disaster, patients with radiation sickness.
At the moment, the Verkhovna Rada plans to expand this category.
Participants in the elimination of the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant accident, who worked in the exclusion zone for a certain period of time, as well as persons permanently residing in the mandatory resettlement zone from the moment of the accident to the adoption of the resettlement order.
Other participants in the liquidation of the consequences of the accident, as well as victims of the disaster, which are not assigned to the second category.
Persons permanently residing (working, studying) in the zone of enhanced radioecological control, provided that they have lived, worked or studied in this zone for at least 4 years as of 01.01.93.
To date, privileges for this category of Chornobyl victims have been abolished, the Law on the Status and Social Protection of Citizens Affected by the Chornobyl Catastrophe has been withdrawn from Art. 23, which concerned the fourth category.
What are their benefits (for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd categories)?
- Free purchase of medicines on the prescription of doctors;
- Priority service in medical and preventive institutions and pharmacies;
- Payment of assistance for temporary incapacity (100% of the average salary), regardless of the insurance period length;
- Extraordinary mandatory provision of children with places in pre-school institutions, regardless of departmental accountability;
- Extraordinary arrangement in social protection institutions, social protection services at home, if the patient does not have close relatives living with him.
A full list of benefits for both all and certain categories of Chornobyl victims is published on the website of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.
Much has changed in recent years. For example, in 2015, the item on the annual free provision of sanatorium and resort permits and holiday vouchers for the second and third categories was excluded.
In November 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to pay monetary compensation instead of permits to citizens affected by the Chornobyl disaster. However, the amount of compensation, in this case, is determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.
In fact, the issue of pensions and their revision is the most frequent requirement, voiced by Chornobyl victims during the rallies.
Since October 2017, the minimum pension for Chornobyl victims of the first category is 160 USD, the second category – 142 USD, the third category – 125 USD.
At the moment, Verkhovna Rada has several bills aimed at increasing the payments of Chornobyl victims. One of them (bill No. 4442) was considered on April 19 and was eventually sent for revision.
From the very beginning of April, Chornobyl victims periodically organize rallies under the Verkhovna Rada, demanding increased payments.
In fact, the struggle for rights and social protection of Chornobyl victims has been topical for many years. Some of the benefits are "optimized", some are canceled, and some are added.
The government plans to strengthen social protection and recalculate pensions to certain categories.
"We do not provide any cuts or benefits or social protection of the Chornobyl victims as of today ... On the contrary, we must do everything to strengthen their social protection," Minister of Social Policy Pavlo Rozenko said to Ukrinform.