Pensioners storm banks, sue president as economic blockade enforced on E.Ukraine


People wait in front of a closed bank on November 26, 2014 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. (AFP Photo/Eric Feferberg)

Kiev is enforcing an economic blockade on eastern Ukraine, where banks are closed and cash machines and credit cards aren’t working. Disrupted social payments to the elderly have become the most acute issue.

Only a handful of cash machines are still functional in the breakaway parts of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions, after local banks received an order from Ukraine’s central bank earlier this week to “suspend” operations.

This follows a controversial decree signed by Ukrainian President Petro Porishenko on November 16 that is now coming into effect. Kiev is cutting economic ties with rebel-held areas by freezing bank accounts and stopping social payments, including pensions.

As soon as we regain control [over E. Ukraine], all of the payments will be carried out,” Ukraine’s PM, Arseny Yastenyuk, said on Wednesday. “We would have liked people in the Lugansk and the Donetsk regions to be able to get their payments now, but we can’t send money there, because it gets stolen in banks and in cash delivery vehicles.”

Those willing to withdraw whatever’s left on their accounts have to spend hours standing in queues. And what’s left is not much.

I was getting my pension via Oshchadbank,” a woman from Makeevka told RIA Novosti. “I have 3,000 hryvnas (around $200) left on my account. But I can’t get them. There has been no money in the banking machine for a week already. How am I supposed to live? I don’t even have money for my medicines.

The only option left for many in the breakaway areas is to go to nearby towns under Kiev’s control and try to withdraw cash there. Many are trying to reissue their bank accounts in government-held areas, so as not to lose money. Queues at bus stations are huge.

Read more at RT News

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