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Sunday, April 25, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK

World: Europe

Demonstrations in Ukraine and Belarus to mark anniversary of Chernobyl disaster

On the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident several thousand survivors have marched through the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

They demanded the payment of overdue social allowances and the restoration of a fund -- abolished last year -- to provide money for medicine and rehousing. Hundreds of thousands of people had to abandon the immediate zone around the plant because of poisonous nuclear fallout that also affected Belarus, Russia and parts of western Europe. In Belarus, several thousand opposition demonstrators marched through the capital, Minsk, calling for more attention to the consequences of the accident and to protest against president Alexander Lukashenko's policies. They criticised a proposed union among Belarus, Russia and Yugoslavia and demanded the release of an opposition leader, the former prime minister Mikhail Chigir.

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