Rush for Soviet cash kills two in Ukraine
Two people have died in Ukraine after thousands of people queued for compensation at banks across the country. It followed the government's decision to start paying people who lost their savings after the collapse of the Soviet Union eighteen years ago.
A man died of a heart attack after he spent hours in a queue. In another incident, the head of a bank in the capital Kiev was beaten to death when she tried to calm a crowd.
More than 17 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there are new queues in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Reminiscent of days gone by, these lines are not for food but rather for cash.
Thousands of Ukrainians flocked to banks to be compensated for savings they lost in the chaos following the break-up of the Soviet Union.
However, the sheer demand for cash meant only some people were able to get their money from Oschadbank.
Timoshenko has promised to pay $ US 1.2 billion this year out of an estimated $ US 26 billion owed to Ukrainians.
The government has also offered non-cash payments in the form of vouchers to pay utility bills or some consumer goods.
Ukrainians will get up to $ US 200 for money they had stashed away in Soviet times. For many, this is inadequate compensation for a lifetime of lost savings.
But it is an important gesture to restore confidence in the country's new leadership.
"We have to get even something from them! Before, we had roubles - which were expensive. And now we are getting hryvnias [Ukrainian national currency]. But we have to get money anyway," says one of the bank customers.
Some experts say the move will restore the citizens' trust in the government and benefit needy pensioners and lowly-paid government workers.
Other analysts have dismissed the measure as a populist move that will bust the country's budget and further increase already high inflation.
Former Soviet Republics, Lithuania and Kazakhstan have already returned some or almost all of Soviet-era savings to their citizens. ( RT )