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Ukrainians Protest Rising Prices

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TEHRAN, May 20 (ICANA) – Hundreds of Ukrainian opposition activists have protested against rising prices and high utility bills, demanding higher wages and pensions at Ukraine's parliament's site in the capital Kiev.
Friday, May 20, 2011 10:44:20 PM
Ukrainians Protest Rising Prices

The protesters shouted slogans on Thursday against rising prices and taxes resulting from the government's economic policies and corrupt banking system, calling their anti-government demonstration "Spring Rally," AP reported.

In Ukraine, food and energy prices have risen sharply in recent months, coinciding with a drop in the approval rating of President Viktor Yanukovych.

The demonstrators also demanded that Yanukovych and his government resign. They accuse the government of using an unpopular economic policy for what they call anti-national reforms and economic repression. They called for a realistic fight against corruption at all levels in the government.

The Ukrainian government has enacted austerity measures in order to receive a 15-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF refused to release a USD-1.6 billion loan tranche scheduled in March after the government failed to pass a pension reform bill and watered down gas price increases for households.

Ukraine's currency, hryvnia, has been under pressure since March when the IMF suspended the loan disbursement.

"Structural reforms have been lagging, not for the last two years but for a number of years," said the IMF's country representative, Max Alier.

Alier also warned that Ukraine's non-performing bank loan levels were high.

The Ukrainian government has been in need of loans in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. But the IMF has set reforms as a condition for assistance.

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