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Thousands of Ukrainians -- including emergency workers who fought the fires and cleaned up the 1986 nuclear disaster -- take to the country's streets to protest unpopular cuts to pensions and social benefits

Chernobyl "liquidators" warm themself beside a fire in the open air after their tents were attacked and destroyed by unknown people in Donetsk on November 27, 2011. Some 40 Ukrainian veterans of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on November 16, 2011 declared a hunger strike against cuts to their benefits and pitched few tents outside the pension fund building in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk, a stronghold of President Victor Yanukovych. For liquidators were collected by emergencys and one of them was died in the car. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)

ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images/ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images

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Veterans of the Chernobyl cleanup operation assist a colleague after he became unwell during a protest rally against a government initiative to cut social benefits for "liquidators" or emergency workers who fought the blaze at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, in Donetsk November 27, 2011. Police dismantle the tent camp of Veterans of the Chernobyl in front of the local pension fund office in Donetsk on Sunday, local news agencies reported. REUTERS/Photomig (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ENERGY)

REUTERS/REUTERS

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Liquidators or emergency workers, who fought the blaze at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, take part in a hunger strike in Donetsk November 28, 2011. Protesters have taken part in the hunger strike to demand the authorities to pay out their subsidies and benefits guaranteed by the law, according to local media. The bandage reads "I am starving". REUTERS/Valeriy Bilokryl (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ENERGY)

Valeriy Bilokryl /REUTERS/Valeriy Bilokryl /REUTERS

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Ukrainian veterans of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster cleanup, also known as liquidators, carry a mock coffin on November 29, 2011 during the symbolic burial of their peer Gennady Konoplyov during a protest in the eastern Ukrainian industrial city of Donetsk. Konoplyov died on November 27, 2011 shortly after police officers forcibly removed a tent camp set up by liquidators in Donetsk to protest cuts in their benefits. During the operation Konoplyov was shoved by police and died in an ambulance during his transfer to hospital. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)

ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images/ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images

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Liquidators, or emergency workers who fought the blaze at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, protest against the authorities' initiative to cut social benefits, near the government headquarters in Kiev November 29, 2011. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SOCIETY)

GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

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Protesters clash with riot police during a rally by veterans involved in the clean-up operation following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in front of the government building, Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011. The veterans were demanding the right to keep the social benefits given to them after the clean-up. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Sergei Chuzavkov/AP/Sergei Chuzavkov/AP

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Wives of Ukrainian veterans of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster cleanup, also known as liquidators, cry on November 29, 2011 during the symbolic funeral of their peer Gennady Konoplyov during a protest in the eastern Ukrainian industrial city of Donetsk. Konoplyov died on November 27, 2011 shortly after police officers forcibly removed a tent camp set up by liquidators in Donetsk to protest cuts in their benefits. During the operation Konoplyov was shoved by police and died in an ambulance during his transfer to hospital. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)

ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images/ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images

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Protesters clash with riot police on November 29, 2011 during a rally in front of government headquarters in Kiev. About 3,000 protesters, most of them were veterans of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster clean-up, rallied against the government's social policy. AFP PHOTO / GENIA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images/GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

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